Capitalism in space: SpaceX yesterday shipped to Florida the Dragon capsule it will use for its first manned mission, now set for sometime between April and June.
No official word yet on any specific launch date, though there are reports that they are targeting May 7.
In that same story at the second link a NASA official admitted that one of the big issues is filling out the paperwork.
“Even though it sounds mundane, there is a load of paper that has to be verified, and signed off, and checked to make sure we’ve got everything closed out,” [said chief of human spaceflight Doug Loverro.] “It is probably one of the longest things in the tent to go ahead and do. It’s underappreciated but critically important. You’ve got to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do along the way.”
Properly documenting what you are doing is always essential, but if you over do it you raise costs unnecessarily while simultaneously delaying things. And isn’t it interesting that both of these issues — budget overruns and scheduling delays — have been systemic on all of NASA’s projects for decades?
Furthermore, while good documentation can help prevent problems and help you figure out what went wrong, when things go wrong, doing more of it will not further reduce problems or failures. If anything, too much paperwork will likely increase mistakes by focusing workers on the wrong things. This seems to be one of NASA’s problems in recent years.
Regardless, it does look like that first privately built launch will happen in mere months. The one decision remaining that could legitimately delay it would be if NASA decides to make it a longer mission, requiring more training for its astronauts.
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