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« First Vertical-Vertical Spaceport? | Main | Nukes, Nano And Neutrality »

Today's The Big Day

NASA will be announcing the winner of the CEV Phase II competition at 4 PM Eastern. And since I'm supporting one of the teams, good news for me will be bad news for Thomas James, and vice versa.

As Thomas notes, NASA has been astonishingly good at keeping it a secret. It's all the more astonishing when one considers that they had to tell Congress who the winner was a month ago.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 31, 2006 05:59 AM
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Keith Cowing includes splitting the contract between the two teams as one option NASA might choose. That would seem a reasonable political approach, i.e. spread contracts to as many states as possible. However, I'd hazard to guess that it would make a difficult project even harder for NASA to manage.
- C.

Posted by Clark at August 31, 2006 07:19 AM

I really have trouble believing that they'll do that. For one thing, that's not how either company bid it--it would essentially be an entirely different program. For another, if they were going to do that, why wait? They would have already told the contractors what they were doing, so they could start to coordinate efforts and not waste any time getting reorganized. All of the planning on both contractors part was to fast start Phase II as a sole contractor, and making them divvy up the work and renegotiate the entire program would set things back for weeks.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 31, 2006 07:28 AM

This reminds me of the JSF announcement. As much as I knew Boeing built an ugly plane, the performance and cost specs were kept under tight wraps, and the announcement was truly a surprise.

Posted by Leland at August 31, 2006 08:25 AM

"As much as I knew Boeing built an ugly plane, the performance and cost specs were kept under tight wraps, and the announcement was truly a surprise."

I sincerely hope it's Boeing this time around. They at least build reliable commercial aircraft, while Lockheed (Skunk Works notwithstanding) seems to base most of its "business" around *not* building stuff. If the latter is chosen, I would be very concerned about the survival of the Moon program, let alone Mars, because the cost of CEV is destined to reach orbit long before the hardware.

Lockheed is a lot better at squeezing every last dime they can out of a program than at delivering the product, and after they'd finished with Orion it'd be a surprise if it wasn't a paint can flying sea monkeys at six times the projected cost. As Griffin is surely aware of this, I'm thinking the decision will hinge on whether Bush's minions interfere in the outcome--after all, there is a lot of money involved, and Lockheed contributed ten times as much to the GOP than Boeing in 2004. If it's Boeing, breathe a sigh of relief. If Lockheed, have a drink for the lost future.

Posted by Brian Swiderski at August 31, 2006 10:34 AM

I'm not surprised you feel that was BS. I, however, have worked on the NASA side of the space station program. I left in 2000, when the ISS was scheduled to be completed by 2003 (to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers). Even without the Columbia tragedy, there was no way Boeing was going to make that schedule. As of now, Assembly Complete is no longer discussed.

If Lockheed Martin squeezes every dime, they at least complete the project, which is far more than I can say for Boeing's ISS program. Indeed, Boeing has thrown away flight articles and then charged NASA to rebuild them. Then there is the whole EELV program (the last time Boeing/Lockheed Martin went head to head in space); Boeing won after cheating, and Lockheed Martin still beat them to the pad.

I do think CEV/Orion could go either way (this said with just 1 hour prior to public annoucement), but your assessment of Boeing's potential and degradation of Lockheed Martin shows great ignorance of reality.

Posted by Leland at August 31, 2006 12:23 PM

I should add that I've always considered the Northrup/Grumman aspect to be tough equation in guessing the CEV winner from the outside. I can't see Boeing beating Lockheed Martin heads up in space with the recent past mentioned above, but Northrup/Grumman might keep them inline.

Posted by Leland at August 31, 2006 12:26 PM

Reuters says it Lock-Mart

Posted by Mark L at August 31, 2006 01:17 PM

If Lockheed Martin squeezes every dime, they at least complete the project, which is far more than I can say for Boeing's ISS program.

How does X-33 line up with that theory?

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 31, 2006 01:58 PM

X-33 wasn't LM's fault--it was NASA's. They gave LM the Kobayashi Maru and then acted surprised when it failed. LM's biggest mistake on X-33 was not doing enough "due diligence" on the original proposal to just walk away like Boeing did.

Posted by x33-vet at August 31, 2006 02:52 PM

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