Guest Writer Today

This note from my successor as Shuttle Program Manager was too good not to post:

Did you know that in the year from May 11, 2009 to May 14, 2010, the Shuttle and ISS teams launched seven Space Shuttle flights?
If you add STS-119 in March of 2009, we have launched eight flights in 14 months (15 March 2009 to 14 May 2010)…Early in 2009, independent studies showed less than a 20% likelihood we could achieve this flight rate.

This was accomplished due to many different contractor and government organizations working as a team.

During this high-flight rate period Shuttle Processing has set and reset records for the lowest number of IPR’s during processing, multiple projects and the integration teams are responsible for new records for the lowest number of debris releases and the lowest number of TPS damages on the Orbiter, and all of the projects have set records for the lowest number of in-flight anomalies.

The production teams have met or significantly beat all processing milestones for hardware delivery to KSC.

The institutional organizations have successfully integrated the governance model into our everyday processes, providing fully independent engineering and safety ownership of risk decisions for the first time in the history of the Program. This smooth process was demonstrated clearly in last flight’s MMT meetings.

Even more amazing is that all of this was accomplished while necessarily reducing the total workforce by 32%, to the lowest numbers in Program history (from 14,577 in 2005 to 9878 today).
These government/contractor teams are unquestionably performing at an incredibly high level.  I am extremely proud of how all of you are maintaining your focus and completing the incredible legacy of the Space Shuttle Program.

John P. Shannon

My congratulations to the entire Space Shuttle team on their continuing accomplishments!

9 thoughts on “Guest Writer Today”

  1. I would rather see the $6 billion proposed for commercial spaceflight spent on Shuttle Safety Upgrades and first few years of operational costs and fly out the Shuttle for the remainder of the ISS program to 2020. The CAIB didn’t say NASA could not fly the Shuttle beyond 2010, it just needed to certify the Shuttle to fly beyond 2010. The devil you know if better than the one you dont.

    Fly 2 or 3 flights a year with a crew of 4. Retire one Shuttle and use the other 2 for actual flights. That would give the US Congress and President time to work out what they really want to do beyond LEO, get maximum science out of the ISS and keep the USA in the manned space flight business. When the then Soviet Union lost 2 Soyuz and 2 crews in separate fatal reentry accidents in 1967 and 1971 they didnt shut down the Soyuz program, they simply did want they needed to do to make it as safe as possible. Even the Russians want the Shuttle to continue to keep flying. If the Shuttle is that unsafe it should have been grounded in 2003 for good and not flown for another 20 flights. $2 billion a year in operational costs is peanuts considering what the Shuttle does in upmass and downmass and what is wasted elsewhere in the Federal Budget.

    SOS – Save Our Shuttle

  2. John and Wayne,
    Great job on SSP leadership. Best of luck with the remaining manifest.

  3. While I would very much like to hand out kudos to everyone involved, the fact of the matter, as Wayne once wrote, is that your “season” isn’t over yet…your team has two more games to “win”, and only then can you state with certainty that you’ve accomplished something.

    Former Steelers coach Chuck Noll once said something to that effect, I believe.

    “The price of safety, much like the price of freedom, is eternal vigilance.”

    Dave Hromanik

  4. Correct me if I am wrong but all the Flow Directors for the 3 Shuttles are women. Maybe the low rate of IPRs, flight rate etc has something to do with the gender of the Management. Just a thought.

  5. Wayne, thanks for posting John Shannon’s comments. It seems a shame to end the Shuttle program on such a high note. I disagree with the decision simply because we are ending a successful “marriage” between shuttle and ISS, two systems that were designed to work together. As it stands, we will lose significant upmass and downmass capabilities, and then we are to rely on our Russian partners for human transport to and from station. Furthermore, we are making this decision with no developed system to replace shuttle.

    My recommendation is to fly shuttle at a rate of two missions per year to ISS to support crew rotation and logistics. We should in the meantime develop Orion and an SDLV (Jupiter 130 is my choice) to minimize the HSF gap. If commercial HSF takes off, we can still move forward with Jupiter derivatives for BEO missions using Orion.

    As it stands now, the forward path for HSF is stalled, and that is a shame. While I celebrate all the folks at NASA and the contractors who made shuttle such a success, I am disappointed that our government has failed to articulate a coherent, goal oriented future for HSF. I believe we have people smart enough to make it happen, but the leadership from above is lacking.

  6. Even if the workforce was cut in half again without safety being affected, it would still be too costly.

    We need to be looking, as we are, to get people up and down the gravity well with its heavy atmosphere as cheaply as possible. That, in part means cutting mass out of the launch vehicle and capsule.

    Without people on board, we can make great strides with cheaply launching cargo into space.

    Vale Space Shuttle – you have sorely tested the the nation’s technological prowess. Much has been learnt and will be applied to much cheaper, and thus more promising, methods of getting people and freight into space.

  7. I’ve always admired how hard NASA employees work to help make the program succeed. I’ve grown familiar watching you Wayne, and John, in various press conferences. It’s like seeing a member of the family when I see your faces, and other NASA leaders on the screen. I’ve always admired your abilities to lead. I wonder what many of you will be doing after the shuttle is done. I wish all of you the best of luck in the future.

  8. A nice reminder by John about what we pulled off around here. But it is also a sobering reminder of what’s about to happen. Just when we get to doing it well, we’re going to have to stop. Pity….

Comments are closed.