Young Hits US Spaceflight Plan

Doug Cooke & Tom Young

Amy Klamper, of Space News, highlights in her article, Young Hits US Spaceflight Plan opposition by Tom Young of the Administration’s plans to end NASA’s human space flight program.

One of the aerospace industry’s most widely respected experts told House lawmakers March 24 that NASA’s proposal to rely on commercial crew taxis for operations in low Earth orbit is too risky and urged Congress not to approve the plan.

During the House Science & Technology Subcommittee hearing on March 24th, Young testified, (his opening statement and some testimony)

“In my opinion, there is no logic that supports having an industrial enterprise totally responsible for crew transportation to Earth orbit with NASA defining safety requirements and general oversight.

We actually tried a similar approach in the 1990’s. The Air Force implemented a program called “Acquisition Reform.” System responsibility for national security space programs was ceded to industry under a contracting approach called Total System Performance Responsibility (TSPR.) Air Force and NRO project managers were told to step back, to not interfere and to let industry have total responsibility. Additionally, the Air Force and NRO essentially eliminated their system engineering capabilities since the responsibility would reside with industry.

The results were devastating and the adverse impact is still with us today. Good project managers and project management personnel left and an exceptional systems engineering capability was eliminated. Projects were a disaster and TSPR was judged by all to be a total failure.

Problems were not isolated to one project or to one company, the impact was systemic. As examples, FIA managed by Boeing was cancelled after the expenditure of about 10B$. SBIRS High, managed by Lockheed-Martin, has been referred to as “a case study in how not to execute a space program.” NPOESS, managed by Northrop- Grumman, is a story that is still evolving.

On average, programs implemented using this approach resulted in half the intended program for twice the cost and six years late.”

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