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Alan Boyle describes the details behind NASA’s decision to go with simpler contracting for future commercial rocket contracts

Alan Boyle describes the details behind NASA’s decision to go with simpler contracting for future commercial rocket contracts.

If you read the article, you’ll notice that the opposition to this decision comes from a Congressman and the GAO. In both cases they cite safety as an issue, as is by some magic giving NASA a lot of bureaucratic approval rights on every design is going to make the rockets or capsules safer. All this will really do is slow things down, increase costs, and possibly increase risks as the companies will no longer have as many resources to focus on design issues. Instead, they will have to spend a fortune pleasing NASA bureaucrats.

And yes, I call them bureaucrats. Any NASA engineer who spends his or her time looking over the shoulder of another engineer — who is doing the real design work — is nothing more than a bureaucrat. Better to quit NASA and get a job with one of these new companies where you can do some real work.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

2 comments

  • you’re falling into the trap of looking at these partnerships from the perspective of NASA. It’s not just about *their* needs. That’s why it’s called a partnership. From the other perspective this is an opportunity to continue on their own path without having NASA dictate what the system must and must not do.

  • James Fincannon

    “Any NASA engineer who spends his or her time looking over the shoulder of another engineer — who is doing the real design work — is nothing more than a bureaucrat. ”

    Perhaps it does not pertain to your comment since you may be focused on a different aspect, but design reviews, which are essentially an engineer “looking over the shoulder of another engineer”, are extremely useful to identify omissions, errors, and logical inconsistencies. Especially in rapid conceptual design/analysis work with limited resources, it is good to get a fresh pair of eyes to view what you have done.

    That said, it is also possible to review things to death. The key is moderation.

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