Archive for the ‘Delta IV’ Category

Delta IV As It Looked Carrying DSP-23

Busy hands are happy hands (within reason) I often say.

Therefore, the NRO should have happy hands based on the two ops they have coming up.

The link speculates about the NROL-32 and 49 missions which will ride on a pair of Delta IVs and are in the launch queue for October and January 2011 respectively.

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Boeing's Delta IV

Well, this will be interesting. Stand by for some alphabet soup.

First, the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) says Boeing needs to reimburse $72 million it has already received.

Next, DCAA says the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA, not to be confused with DCAA) should notify the joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture called the United Launch Alliance (ULA) that there are another $199 million in unallowable costs (that are pending reimbursement) that the government won’t pay.  Got all that?

The work in question was done was for the Air Force as far back as 1998.

Given the complexity of monster-sized programs like EELV, the two main contractors, the joint venture, the who-knows-how-many subs, and the multi-year time frame, unpacking this all had to be–to say the least–a challenging audit to close on.

DCMA is now reviewing DCAA’s audit recommendation and a final decision is planned for November.

EELVs Provide Margin; Margin Allows For Scheduling Flexibility

I think the new strategy–basically to match a spacecraft to a boosters six to twelve months out based on spacecraft readiness–is enabled by the studly to-orbit capabilities of the Delta IV and Atlas V EELV vehicles.

I’m guessing both families of boosters have enough margin that they can wait until later in the scheduling process to be matched with a spacecraft versus the traditional way of  matching much earlier on based on which booster was the best fit (or the only fit) to get a particular satellite on orbit.

This flexibility allows a spacecraft to go to either a Delta IV or an Atlas V and avoids committing to one versus the other two years in advance.

The idea makes plenty of sense.  The only ones who might lose out will be those secondary and orphan types of payloads looking for a cheap(er) ride to space.

NASA is underfunded. They need an extra $50 billion or so across the next ten years to do what they’re supposed to do.

Given the anticipated national-level direction and funding trend for this sort of discretionary endeavor, NASA should expect to be riding on a man-rated version of the Delta IV and cancel their Ares programs.

There will be little Congressional consensus towards plussing NASA up to perform their “program of record.”

And let’s consider the ISS as a point of comparison. As Taylor Dinerman reports, the ISS went from an $8 billion program estimate in 1984 to an actual program costing about $100 billion as we speak. So that $50 billion estimate the Augustine panel has come up might well end up being much more than they’ve anticipated.