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COMPLEX believes, based on comments from the Clementine operational and management teams, that a 6-to 8-month-longer schedule would have been much more realistic for the mission. Such a development time would inevitably call for a larger budget than that made available to the Clementine team. COMPLEX's discussions with personnel involved with Clementine suggested that this increment would have been a small fraction of the project's total cost.
Future Discovery missions planned by NASA's Office of Space Science assume a nominal 36-month development phase; NASA's other ''smaller, faster, cheaper" science programs (e.g., Earth Probes, Earth System Science Pathfinders, Solar-Terrestrial Probes, Small Explorers, and MidEx) also demand short development times. The Clementine experience indicates that such a schedule can be adequate, but only if the Discovery projects enjoy the other advantages of Clementine, such as unchanging objectives, disciplined management, a proven launch vehicle, and resources made available according to the original plan. A 36-month schedule would not be adequate if the scientific instruments required substantial development. No such development was needed for Clementine since BMDO/DOD had earlier made substantial investments to bring the necessary technology to maturity.
The cost of the Clementine mission was, according to the figures supplied to COMPLEX (see Table 1.1), significantly lower (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than that of any previous planetary mission, and less than the projected expenses of three of the four Discovery missions selected to date (Table 3.1). In judging Clementine's price, it must be recognized that the mission had both successes and failures. In the technology arena, Clementine was successful in achieving its goal of space-qualifying sensors and spacecraft subsystems, but the mission failed before autonomous acquisition and tracking of a moving object could be tested. Scientific goals were accomplished at the Moon; however, the asteroid science objectives were not achieved.
Even given the partial failures, the general perception exists that, for planetary missions, Clementine has set a new standard of performance within a constrained budget. This perception needs to be tempered by the fact that there are apples-vs.-oranges reasons that a DOD mission might come out ahead in a cursory comparison with a NASA mission. DOD's inherent advantages included:
A corporate culture that was able to dictate a schedule that was too tight. A more realistic schedule would necessarily add to the cost (as well as perhaps reduce the risk).
Previous investments in spacecraft technology by DOD, which meant that the additional cost for this mission could be relatively modest.
A degree of institutional strength in negotiating DOD's many contracts that has not been achieved by NASA in the past and may not be achievable with the kind of open process traditionally utilized by NASA. For example, government procurement rules prohibit the use of a single vendor, but this restriction compromises a project' s ability to quickly develop and purchase specialized technological devices even if it is known that only a few contractors are experienced in a particular line of work.
Absence of certain overhead costs that are typically borne by NASA science missions (specifically, the Clementine project was charged only for its full-time team members and not for part-time support).
On the other hand, a NASA science mission, by its very nature, will incur cost penalties not applicable to DOD missions such as Clementine. These include:
The cost of the science team. NASA established and funded Clementine's science team to validate the data and plan for its archiving.
Data analysis expenses. In contrast to NASA's traditional policy, no data analysis was supported by the mission.
The development of an optimized science payload. Clementine's instruments were not optimized for scientific observations.