Thoughts From A Constellation Manager

Obama-Buzz-Lightyear.jpgAmericaSpace Note: We have a new poster who has been brave enough to stand-up and tell all of us what is really going on at the ground level. It isn’t pretty. This individual is a manager within the Constellation program. Beyond that, we have guaranteed his anonymity so that he does not suffer the same fate as former CxP head Jeff Hanley, someone who will be remembered as a hero in the fight to save America’s.

I don’t really have any nice things to say about either any of NASA’s upper-leadership or any from the Obama Administration involved with NASA. They can throw away all of them above Doug Cook , the Exploration manager at headquarters, who seems to be sensible.

If not announced yet, there will be around 600 pink slips sent out by Lockheed – builder of the Orion vehicle, and 200 or so from ATK – builder of the Ares rocket, due to cancellation of the program. Even the DOD has been lobbying to keep Constellation because if you cancel the Ares program and rely on the commercial rocket program, then the volume impacts their access to space and national security.

I stand at high risk of having to layoff a sizable portion of my team in the next month if things do not change soon. But the program has already given us direction to start layoffs as early as June 1st (never mind the FY2010 appropriations language prohibiting this). I have already had to cancel all travel for the rest of the year, all material procurements, delayed our major design review forcing a 12 month slip and still will have to lay off. Right now layoffs will be limited contractors.

With what is going in in DC, I am torn between giving them, NASA’s upper-leadership, credit for such a well thought-out cloak-and-dagger plot or the possible reality that this is the perfect storm of decisions fueled by complete and unabashed ineptitude!!

Our slip in design review and layoffs is a result of the anti-CxP faction forceing a conservative rectification of the termination liability FAR clause this year instead of next – when they plan on cancelling the contracts – which is driving this massive shortage of money for our project alone this year. With no money, we can’t pay everyone’s salary and with out people, can’t make our design review. Also, we can’t pay the contractors who’s contracts they want to cancel but can’t because Congress said they can’t use any FY 10 dollars to cancel any Constellation programs. But if you don’t pay the contractors, they will be forced to self-terminate due to just cause and keep NASA’s ass out of the legal sling!

Who knows what will be the fate of our team. We are small enough we might survive with one of the new funding sources if we can prove that we are building a system that is enought tech dev and will support the flexable path mission. Or we could get scattered to the wind as small independant component tech dev tasks…

Oh! And they just “reassigned” the Constellation Program Director so that he could pursue other important jobs!

AmericaSpace closing thoughts… We think it’s interesting that engineers are beginning to take a stand and face the consequences in their fight to save our nation’s human space flight program. Bravo for those who have made that brave choice.

We still hold-out hope that at some point those within the current astronaut corps will follow in the footsteps of NASA engineers and former astronauts such as Armstrong and take a stand on our President’s plans to rewrite our nation’s human space program.

2 comments to Thoughts From A Constellation Manager

  • joe

    Believe me when I say they think they are smart in forcing this but in 10 years they will no longer be the butt of many jokes, they will be held responsible for systematically dismantling the nation’s space program.

  • Why hasn’t Bolden resigned? Surely not because he lacks character or courage. Is it because of his military training, so he follows orders no matter what the consequences? Maybe it’s because he’s part of the inept, inexperienced Obama machine that gave him the lucrative job. Perhaps he really is as incompetent as he sounds during Congressional hearings and others are making the real decisions.