…for commercial space. A warning from Wayne Hale:
NASA at its highest leadership level has committed to try to allow commercial space flight providers a great deal of flexibility and cost control. There are ways to do this which will not compromise safety in design or operation. But having NASA civil servants as the arbiters of whether or not thousands of requirements have been satisfied is not the way to accomplish neither safety nor cost efficiency.
So whether Commercial Space Flight gets $6 billion or $3 billion or $50 million, the entire effort is on the way to a train wreck.
NASA must change or this effort will fail.
No doubt. Part of the point of the new policy was to get NASA to change, but it’s going to be a very painful process, and there will be vicious guerilla warfare in the trenches. The draft requirements are just one of the skirmishes in that war. At some point, they will have to be revealed, to allow them to be properly critiqued before they become something more than draft. If NASA had a strong administrator, he would note that they will be signed off at the top, where the buck stops. But if NASA had a strong administrator, Ed Weiler wouldn’t still be in charge of SMD.
If the train wreck occurs, it will be NASA’s problem, though, not that of the commercial providers. There will be commercial human spaceflight, sooner or later. NASA can make it happen sooner, but they won’t be able to prevent it, and once everyone sees other people flying on SpaceX/ULA/Boeing/Whoever vehicles to Bigelow (and perhaps others’) facilities, it’s going to be impossible for NASA to get the billions some (either at NASA or on the Hill) will request for their own doomed programs, in the coming austere fiscal environment. There is only one way forward for human spaceflight, and that’s commercial providers.
[Update a few minutes later]
I should add that I am not surprised, of course, in any way by Wayne’s report.