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Politics, regulation, bureaucracy or simply stupidity?

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Fri Mar 11, 2005 1:27 pm
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Politics, regulation, bureaucracy or simply stupidity? 
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Post Politics, regulation, bureaucracy or simply stupidity?   Posted on: Fri Mar 11, 2005 1:27 pm
As the article "Paperwork stops space privateers building lunar lander" ( www.xprizenews.org/index.php?p=811 ) says t/Space in principle could build a CEV - but is faced to that much paperwork by NASA that they cannot get ready that paperwork.

My first impression was that NASA might bar them this way. My second thought was that NASA's bureaucracy simply is insensitive for the topics and my third thought was that all the paperwork might be meant to bar all middle- or small-scaled compynies and consortiums without saying that openly.

It might be the interest of Boeing and Lockheed or/and it might be the interest of the middle management of NASA to prevent what the Aldridge report is recommending.

Or doesn''t NASA recognize the advantages and chances provided by the emerging space entrepreneurs or of their concepts?

(Besides: which way could t'Space's concept be kept alive privately?)



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Post    Posted on: Fri Mar 11, 2005 2:44 pm
I agree 100% with everything you said.
I am reminded of a story Richard Feynman tells about his participation in the Challenger investigation. He went around and spoke to the technicians assembling the shuttle. They told him how the work of assembling the SRBs could be made easier by painting 4 small marks on the sides of the boosters. NASA rejected the idea as too expensive. When Feynman asked management how painting 4 small marks could be expensive, they said it was because of the paperwork!


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Post    Posted on: Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:12 pm
I thought that NASA were trying to change their culture, obviously this is not the case.

I think Ekkehard is right also that NASA could be accused of using paperwork to bar any new players in the space game. This approach will lead to the normal players cutting up the NASA pie and producing mediocrity at an inflated price. I hope NASA doesnt use this system for their centennial challenge scheme or that is liable to be a flop.

But then again government agencies are notorious for creating unnecessary paperwork. Civil servants do not like to make mistakes as they are scared of the full weight of the agency coming down on them, this often leads to a situation that if no decision is made they cant be held responsible so they make sure that anyone trying something new has to jump through flaming hoops while juggling a set of knives. Paperwork is a way of deferring a decision or placing it on someone else, I dont suppose many NASA mangers have signs with "the buck stops here" on their desk. 20 years of working for the UK MoD has given me this insight into government practice.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:18 pm
I guess NASA is not changing their culture to the better.. but to even worst.

http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/ ... 338245.stm
Voyager probes in funding crisis
Nasa's twin Voyager probes may have to close down in October to save money
Although the Voyager probes are thought to have another 15 years of life left in them, they are very expensive to run, costing Nasa about $4.2m a year for operations and data analysis.

Other missions like Ulysses, which was launched in 1990 to explore the Sun's polar regions, might also have to be abandoned after the end of the fiscal year in October.

So the hubble isn't alone... so if the NEW vehicle they PLAN to develop is a failure.. they will have lost almost "everything"...

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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 12, 2005 12:43 pm
I started a thread about the ASP being an alternative for them ( xprizenews.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=12135#12135 ).

Is there a danger that their participation in the ASP will cause increased regulation because of the competitional thread for Being and Lockheed as well as for NASA? If they would compete for the ASP which wouldn't require that amount of paperwork NASA may look bad quickly if t/Space successfully builds the orbital part of their concept and build the lunar part based on that. There would be two CEVs later perhaps - the private one and NASA's one. And the private one may prove to be cheaper.

In this case a strong coalition of NASA, Boeing and Lockheed on the one side may form to do harm to the privates on the other side.

What do you think about that danger?



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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 12, 2005 1:21 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
In this case a strong coalition of NASA, Boeing and Lockheed on the one side may form to do harm to the privates on the other side.


I think that if NASA was seen to be actively acting against private space companies and ganging up with Boeing and Lockheed that would spell the end for it. The situation would be dangerous for NASA's survival and it would be likely that there would be a drastic cutting of budgets and a streamlining of the agency so that it would be much smaller than it is now. NASA will avoid this at all costs, so although it might be made to look less than effective it would definitely not wish to get into direct confrontation.

The use of paperwork is a tactic that avoids confrontation but if the paperwork is seen as hindering space development then ultimately it will be removed. If someone builds a safe CEV that is cheaper then one produced by NASA/Boeing/Lockheed, they will have to compete or be seen as being inferior. Most of the finance they receive is because they are supposed to be cutting-edge, if this image is tarnished then this finance will be reduced.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 13, 2005 8:14 am
Quote:
NASA wants 40 to 50 monthly reports on what you’re doing


If this is true, it will be more then 1 report a day, if you work 7 days a week, and in a 5-working day week, its 2 a day. Is anybody even reading those reports. I very much doubt that. And whats the point? I know fully how important documentation is, and progress reports, but once every week is more then enough imo. And if this is true for all the other projects of NASA, where is all the billions of pages of documentation gone to? Do the American people have the right to see these, since they pay taxes for it. Or are they somewhere available on the internet?


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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 13, 2005 10:31 am
To some degree the number of reports is irrelevant, its their content that is important. If 50 different people have to sit down and fill out a form or write a short status report every week (something like NASA gives out on the web for shuttle processing) then the task is not to onerous for a multi-billion dollar project. Of course if each report is a hundred pages, countersigned by ten individuals and produced in triplicate that's a different matter.

It is possible that T-space would find it difficult to comply with these paper requirements because of the way it is set up, and it is likely that being a group of fledgeling space companies extra paperwork would be required because of lack of history. Its something like buying a car, a Ford or VW comes with a small owners handbook a kit car manufacturer normally supplies an engineering manual that contains a lot more detail. The new guy always finds it difficult at first.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:22 am
Have you ever seem one the the original Westfield Kit car assembly manuals? I made one many years ago - half the time I needed to use the Force! 30 pages of single sideed A4 - hey presto - you too can make a car!! I believe they are bigger now...

James


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Post    Posted on: Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:34 pm
Here's another article on the rules governing the creation of a CEV. Not very uplifting I'm afraid and highlights some of the fears mentioned here.

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=200 ... 2704-1095r

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