Archive for the ‘Lockheed Martin’ Category

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.

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“Lockheed Martin expects a multibillion-dollar production order from the U.S. government in 2012 for a next-generation satellite system,” reports Space News.

The order in question–perhaps the two ‘exquisite’ satellites flagged in this post from October 2009?

NASA’s prior work to return Americans to the moon isn’t dead yet, but we may want to get a priest.

The big remaining issue will be about funding for contract termination, which I predict will be paid for by NASA.  And that’s not a very bold prediction.

Termination costs are why no contractor in their right mind will take on the risk of committing their own funding–for projects of this magnitude–to government work.  Too risky.

However, Lockheed, Alliant, and Boeing may want to leave the lights on for the SpaceX guys.

Or they may just want to give SpaceX an offer they can’t refuse, like buying them out.

The essential details of the WSJ article:

  • $2.1 billion to build the 72 satellites including nine spares
  • $800 million to launch (and to do some undefined ground upgrades)
  • Launches envisioned as 2015 to 2017
  • $1.8 billion in loan guarantees from ‘French export-credit agency’
  • Loral considered the margins so thin that they earlier dropped out of the competition
  • About $1.3 billion of Iridium’s current business is tied to the U.S. government
  • Thales is European-based

There will be tearing of garments and gnashing of teeth at Lockheed.

The loss of DARPA’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle, which probably disintegrated around the nine minute mark into its 30 minute flight profile, while no doubt disappointing to DARPA, was far from a total failure.

What caused the failure?  Under investigation, however, in Aviation Week, the word ‘recession’ used in describing the change in the HTV-2 in a high temperature environment (and not regarding the economy), is mentioned several times.  1 to 2 inches of recession was described as the expectation by Dr. Paul Erbland, the DARPA program manager.  I’m sure that’s the leading, if yet unproven, candidate.

What did work?  The launch vehicle, the Minotaur IV Lite (looks a lot like a Peacekeeper, doesn’t it?  There’s a reason for that).  This includes include stage separations, payload fairing separation, and payload separation (that is, the HTV-2 coming off a bus).

What else worked?  The sensors all along the range which will allow the DARPA and Lockheed Martin team to unpack the event.

Mach 20 was achieved and greater speeds than that–Mach 25 or so–are likely.

Defense Tech makes a great point about the vehicle’s unique “angle of descent, which makes it easily distinguishable from an ICBM.” (Emphasis added)

What are the critical enablers for a prompt global strike capability?  Intel and this sort of vehicle.