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5 Management Issues Relevant to Design The committee's statement of task focussed on the identification of engineering issues related to the design and operation of the Space Station. However, during its deliberations the committee discussed a number of management concerns that the members felt could have a substantial impact on the technical program's likelihood of success. The management challenge posed by the Space Station program is the greatest ever faced by NASA, including those of Apollo, the Shuttle, and Shuttle recovery. Unlike the Apollo and Shuttle missions, however, the challenges related to the Space Station are not largely driven by technological considerations and difficulties. Among the challenges of the Space Station program are the following: 1. the complexity of the program itself, 2. coordination of the domestic and international interfaces, 3. preparation for a program that is in all practical respects a permanent one, 4. reconciliation of the diverse user communities, and 5. overcoming the strong internal NASA culture. The first four challenges are difficult and serious, and NASA management appears to fully recognize that significant attention must be devoted to them on a continuing long-term basis. The challenge of the~internal NASA cultures itself, however, has many features that make tile first four challenges more difficult to surmount. More important from the committee's perspective, this internal ~culture" intrinsically 53
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54 has enormous potential direct and indirect impacts on design issues and their resolution. Subsequent paragraphs outline those of the committee's observations and concerns about the challenge of the internal culture that are relevant to the Space Station program, followed by the enumeration of some additional management concerns related to design activities that were raised by the committee during the workshop. IMPACT OF THE INTERNAL NASA CULTURE ON THE SPACE STATION PROGRAM Background NASA has historically divided itself into three disciplines: (1) aeronautics, (2) manned spaceflight, and (3) unmanned spaceflight. Whether sanctioned or encouraged by senior management, the divisions were and are real. The core of the Ames, Langley, and Lewis Research Centers' activities has been aeronautics, and no attempt at diversification or appending space-oriented work to these centers is going to change their basic character. Thus, Langley can undertake advanced manned spaceflight work, Ames can address life support systems, and Lewis can be assigned the Space Station's photovoltaic power system, but these are intrinsically appendages to each centers' basic interests. More important, the line management of the centers reports through the Center Directors to the Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology (OAST) at NASA Headquarters. This reality does not indicate that the centers will do their tasks poorly, only that Space Station activities are not mainline, do not report to the management of the Space Station program directly, and may not command the highest priority at those centers. The core of the activities at the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been in the space and earth sciences, with the former institution focussed more on near-Earth activities and the latter more on the planets. Goddard and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory report to the Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA), an office at the same level as CAST. Both have responsibilities in the Space Station program, but each institution has other missions as its principal orientation. As with the aforementioned research
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ss centers, the Space Station activities are not central, do not directly report to the management of the Space Station program, and may not command the highest priority at these two institutions. Finally, the lead NASA centers for manned spaceflight (Iohnson, Kennedy, and Marshall) have been heavily involved in the restoration of the Shuttle to flight (and its continued operation), and report to the Office of Space Flight (OSF). These centers do, however, see the Station as mainline to their principal mission, even though they do not directly report to the Office of Space Station. Although NASA has a good deal of experience with matrix management, the Space Station program carries the degree of matrix support to a new level. As noted above, none of the centers report directly to the Office of Space Station, and each center has major, demanding, relatively near-term programs that it must support. The difficulties for Space Station management can be considerable. There is an additional complication. The Space Station program Is managed at the same level in NASA as OAST, OSF, and OSSA. It is also dependent on still another coequal NASA organization for its communications: the Office of Space Operations. Thus, while directly commanding none of the line manpower resources of the agency, the Office of Space Station relies on one coequal office for its launches, another for its supporting technology, a third for its payloads, and a fourth for its communications. Not to be forgotten are three foreign entities who are responsible for major modules or systems as well. ImDect of Management Complexities on the Space Station Technical Program As a result of all of the above constraints, the Space Station management structure has generated layer upon layer of institutional and interface documents of staggering complexity. Direct management paths are few and extend only from one institutional barrier to another. Diffusion of power and responsibility is extreme. The likelihood of swift, effective action is small for any substantive matter. A missing ingredient is the cohesive attribute of strong and creative technical leadership providing management and oversight that permeates to all levels--leadership, which in industry, is associated with a chief engineer and his or her staff.
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56 Whether the issue is communications, launches, payload, or manpower resources, the leader of the Space Station program can only negotiate with equals; failing that, the Administrator or Deputy Administrator must adjudicate and become the de facto project manager. The committee attributes part of the shortfall of key manpower at the Level II Space Station Program Office to the management structure and foresees that increasing tensions will mark the program if clearer lines of authority do not emerge in the future. IMPACT OF PROGRAM INSTABILITIES ON THE SPACE STATION TECHNICAL PROGRAM Budgetary uncertainties, certain congressional directives, and operational limitations of the existing post-Challenger Shuttle have produced program instabilities that may have increased design complexity and reduced design conservatism. The Space Station program has been subjected to considerable schedule and programmatic turbulence due to annual budgetary uncertainties. The current schedule and budget profile may not be achievable if current budgetary instabilities persist. It is difficult to conduct an orderly development program for a system as complex as the Space Station when the amount of resources that can be allocated to development by the program management is largely unpredictable from year to year. As was mentioned earlier, some of the congressional directives to the Space Station program appear to the committee to have increased the complexity of the development process without any compelling technical justification. An example is the removal of the life sciences centrifuge from the U.S. laboratory module to a node. While the committee is somewhat skeptical of the measure's desirability in the absence of a demonstrable technical need, its main concern is that it is very destabilizing to an already constrained program to have additional requirements arbitrarily imposed. If the discipline of the design process is to be maintained, proposals for additional requirements must go through established program review mechanisms so that their impacts can be properly assessed before the additional requirements are accepted. Finally, the 1987 NRC Committee on the Space Station noted that From the inception of the Space Station program, the
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57 Shuttle has been the sole means of space transportation contemplated for Station deployment and support. This has resulted in a Space Station design constrained by the Shuttle cargo bay dimensions and the Shuttles weight lifting capacity. These constraints have increased the difficulty of satisfying user requirements in a number of ways.... The deployment process and the operational concept also have been influenced by the lack of other means of space transportation. For example, use of the Shuttle will require substantial levels of extravehicular activity and on-orbit outfitting of the laboratory and habitation modules. The constraints imposed by the Shuttle have become more restrictive as Shuttle capabilities have been reduced, first by shortfalls from original specifications and later by modifications required after the Challenger accident. (Resort of the Committee on the SDace Station of the National Research Council, p. 19, 1987~. The workshop committee agrees with the above observations and believes that management of the Space Station program will continue to be complicated by sole reliance on the Shuttle for the deployment and support of the Space Station. If nothing else, maintenance of the planned assembly schedule for the Station will be dependent on maintaining a predictable Shuttle launch rate and manifest through the late 1990s. MANAGEMENT OF FREE-FLYING PLATFORMS The committee concurs with the 1987 NRC Committee on the Space Station's observation that there is no significant scientific or operational relationship between the U.S. polar platform and potential U.S. co-orbiting platform and the Space Station manned base development. The retention of the platforms within the Space Station program further complicates a very difficult management task conducted under severe manpower constraints. Both of the platforms may be justifiable on their own merits, but to carry these programs in the Space Station Program Office just because they have some commonality with Space Station components is not an effective use of the available Space Station program management talent. Platform development should be transferred to the Office of Space Science and Applications.
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58 ASSOCIATE CONTRACTOR RELATIONSHIPS The Space Station development program faces the prospect of bogging down in organizational, managerial, and technical debates unless an accepted and authoritative contractual hierarchy is established with the contractors through their respective offices. - It is of concern to the committee that a disciplined and contractually binding process for integration is not evident; one needs to be established early in the program. The initiative taken by the Office of Space Station formally to establish associate contractor relationships is commendable. However, the problem of contractor relationships would be a difficult one even if all contractors were reporting to the same contractual authority. In the Space Station program, each associate contractor reports to a different NASA contractual authority and when disagreements arise, the companies each respond to their appropriate contracting officer. Unless the Level II Program Office can somehow gain some direct contracting authority, it will always be looking to the NASA centers to resolve associate contractor differences. If it is not possible to go to a hierarchial contract arrangement, an alternative approach might be to delegate interface control authority to the Program Support Contractor and incorporate this delegation of authority into the four associate contracts. Such a step would in no way reduce the significance of the current Level II initiative to develop good working relationships between the four major associate contractors, but hopefully would further strengthen the management structure. TECHNICAL MANAGEMENT PROCESS The complexity of the Space Station program demands an innovative management style that encourages streamlined action on specific design/technical issues while preserving the hierarchial structure necessary for a disciplined management process. The present organization appears to be a top heavy, highly programmed, and time consuming management structure with no provision for getting through or around it easily or in a timely way; no technical oversight that can readily cross bounds; extremely long action times in case of unexpected
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59 events or emergencies; and one that is not design oriented. There is a need for streamlined paths of technical authority akin to those traditionally provided chief engineers in industry. There should also be adequate provision for someone who worries only about the technical and safety issues, resolutions, and so on, and can cross bounds as if they were not there--that is, a technical conscience or technical ombudsman. Further, the committee is concerned that the program has no adequate provision for short-cutting the technical decision-making process in special cases. SYSTEM SPECIFICATION A Space Station system specification is needed to contractually define the system. Although requirements are being actively defined, the framework for a system specification needs to be developed as early as possible so that responsibilities and accountabilities can be established. In the early phases of the Apollo program, considerable emphasis and effort were placed on development of a system specification and its associated specification tree. While the Space Station program has been developing requirements, the committee noted no apparent emphasis on developing a system specification to manage the program through allocation of the specification tree segments to specific NASA organizations. A system specification developed by an organization such as the Space Station Program Support Contractor would be not only a vehicle for contract compliance but also a basis to effect change discipline and change control. The committee's concern is that until a system specification is developed, refined, and accepted as a living contractual document, there will be confusion and uncontrolled change in space station systems, resulting in cost and schedule problems. INTEGRATION AND VERIFICATION MANAGEMENT PLAN Lack of a strong, crisp integration and verification management plan and architecture can cause unnecessary redesign or design compromises in the Space Station program. While there is considerable work underway in this area, there does not appear to be a management plan and architecture for integration and verification in place.
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60 The most obvious evidence for this conclusion is the inability by NASA to define Kennedy Space Center's verification role during the launch preparation process. The planned level of activity as briefed to the workshop committee has ranged from simple installation in the orbiter bay to total reverification of factory preshipment testing. COMMUNICATIONS AND DATA SYSTEMS The communications and data systems for the Station pass through elements that are developed by up to four separate NASA offices. These offices are independently managed and budgeted. Each can be affected by its own management decisions, OMB's budgetary actions, or the technical, management, or budgetary decisions of Congress. Thus, the Office of Space Station directs the development of the Space Station and its ground control centers. The Office of Space Operations is responsible for the TDRSS, its ground stations, and the communication links to the control centers. The Office of Space Flight operates the Space Shuttle and its communication links to the Station during rendezvous and docking. The Office of Space Science and Applications is responsible for many of the instruments that will be placed on the Station, data processing for its instruments, and the links connecting its facilities to those of investigators. While there is no reason to believe that any of the above offices would act irresponsibly, it nevertheless is true that all elements must work properly with one another for the maximum utility of the Space Station to be realized. At present there is little evidence that NASA is providing adequate oversight, and the potential for errors exists (notably those of omission) even in well-intentioned, skilled organizations. The absence of an information system functional manager at NASA headquarters could allow significant budgeting and scheduling inconsistencies that could inhibit the Space Station Information System from coming on line in a timely and cohesive way. The committee believes that NASA should create a focal point for communications and data systems with the authority and responsibility to oversee all communication links to and from the Space Station. This responsibility should extend from data source to destination without regard to NASA's organizational divisions.
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