Barbara C. Corn
Steering Committee Co-Chair
The four working groups spent a day and a half reviewing the requirements of their assigned space science missions and preparing their findings in viewgraph form for the final morning's presentation. Working Groups 1 and 2 were asked to examine the cost-savings potential of options for implementing an interplanetary mission, Mars 2001. Groups 3 and 4 were asked to work on an Earth-observing exemplar, the Windstar experimental satellite. Each group took a somewhat different approach to the problem of reducing space science mission costs. The groups' findings are summarized below.
Andrew Christensen, Chair
Assigned Mars 2001 as their task, Group 1 began their study by examining the general considerations for cost savings as they applied to the classical systems engineering process.
They emphasized that, during the mission definition phase, each project should develop a clearly defined set of mission goals, an explicit definition of the criteria for mission success, and an agreed-on definition of "acceptable" science. During this early study phase, the project management should formulate an operational concept that will be updated continuously for the life of the program. Taken together, the defined mission goals and operational concept provide the framework for project risk evaluation.
Cost-reduction goals are met either by competition or by use of strong financial incentives. A long-term development and contractual relationship between
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--> Appendix D Summary Of Working Group Reports Barbara C. Corn Steering Committee Co-Chair The four working groups spent a day and a half reviewing the requirements of their assigned space science missions and preparing their findings in viewgraph form for the final morning's presentation. Working Groups 1 and 2 were asked to examine the cost-savings potential of options for implementing an interplanetary mission, Mars 2001. Groups 3 and 4 were asked to work on an Earth-observing exemplar, the Windstar experimental satellite. Each group took a somewhat different approach to the problem of reducing space science mission costs. The groups' findings are summarized below. Working Group 1 Andrew Christensen, Chair Assigned Mars 2001 as their task, Group 1 began their study by examining the general considerations for cost savings as they applied to the classical systems engineering process. They emphasized that, during the mission definition phase, each project should develop a clearly defined set of mission goals, an explicit definition of the criteria for mission success, and an agreed-on definition of "acceptable" science. During this early study phase, the project management should formulate an operational concept that will be updated continuously for the life of the program. Taken together, the defined mission goals and operational concept provide the framework for project risk evaluation. Cost-reduction goals are met either by competition or by use of strong financial incentives. A long-term development and contractual relationship between
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--> the government and a supplier is not in the best interests of the government unless the supplier has an incentive to reduce cost. If cost reduction is a major objective of future government contracts for access to space, significant changes in acquisition strategies are required, including stronger consideration of overall past performance of the contractor during proposal evaluation. Avenues should be sought that will permit proposals from government-industry teams to take advantage of the experience and expertise found in government laboratories. Performance-based contracts that focus on end-item cost rather than the individual cost elements of labor, hardware, travel, and other direct costs are under consideration by NASA, but will require changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations. The working group cited multiyear funding and allowing NASA more autonomy in managing its own finances as important steps in achieving cost reduction. Close cooperation between engineering and science was also strongly emphasized. The view was expressed that the U.S. Department of State should bear its share of the costs of international projects, in keeping with the degree of political gain anticipated and to separate these costs from the true cost of space exploration. NASA project management should participate actively in Memorandum of Agreement definition rather than have agreements dictated. Experience gained regarding the performance of international partners and NASA's own performance in meeting international agreements should be retained for performance evaluation, and NASA should be provided assistance in bridging the cultural gaps that cause miscommunications and hinder development of a close operating team. The working group then turned its attention to examining systems engineering principles as applied to their assigned project, the Mars 2001 mission. It was the general consensus that the mission, as presented, was too tightly defined to permit any potential cost savings that might be achieved through opportunistic events. Indeed, the success of the entire project of Mars exploration is jeopardized by the dependence of each succeeding element on the success of the previous one. Premature decisions as to launch vehicle and developer were also constraining and the source of funding ambiguous. Not enough attention had been paid to the long-term benefits of investment in concurrent development of an infrastructure for the exploration of Mars, as depicted in Table D-1. Working Group 2 Thomas Heinsheimer, Chair Working Group 2 observed that the scenario for the Mars 2001 mission, as defined today, is overly constrained as to objectives, equipment choices, contractors, and architecture. As currently defined, it excludes most of U.S. industry from competing and limits the use of much new low-cost technology. The rigidity of the definition does not permit responding to evolving objectives.
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--> TABLE D-1 Mars Program Infrastructure Candidates Candidate Infrastructure Benefit to Mission or Program Program Risk/Lien Long-life surface beacon, passive comer reflector, or active radio beacon Surface reference point for location/navigation by future surface rovers, airplanes, balloons, landers Little or none Simple test of ability to sustain long-term surface operations (dust, other environmental issues) Mars GPSa Precise navigation aid for surface and in-air operations More elements for operations to manage Areosynchronous communications relay orbiter Reduce antenna size and power requirements for landers by supplying downlink relay More complex data downlink path, subject to significant degradation by failure of the link Increase in data volume demand could exceed relay's as-built capacity In situ propellant manufacture Decouples propulsion requirements and sizing for outbound and return transfers More ATDb effort Increased risk for first implementing mission, unless it is a technology demonstrator Early use of indigenous resources increases knowledge base for human exploration to come Surface power utility Reduce or eliminate need to build power generation/collection into every surface explorer; global coverage if implemented as power beaming from orbit Significantly more ATD dollars to bring to operational status May increase power available to surface investigations Reusable mission elements Amortize development costs over multiple uses, longer lifetimes Probably increases need for autonomous operation aGPS Global Positioning System bATD advanced technology development.
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--> Piggyback/Dedicated? Technology Readiness Cost-Reducing Potential Piggyback with science mission Most technologies ready now Long-life arrays and secondary batteries may be required Minimal cost-reducing potential, and minimal value added by itself , although this may be an essential element for later missions Probably dedicated Ready now Unknown Could be a combination; assured global coverage requires dedicated launches Now or near-term Lowers system costs for future landers or atmospheric vehicles Could boost science orbiter up to synchronous orbit Added up-front cost to emplace, but could be implemented gradually n.a. Near to mid-term Lowers cost of some hardware elements Adds development and operations complexity Overall mission impact not clear Overall program impact potential is very high Dedicated Mid-to long-term Increased program investment Lower per-mission costs and/or more flexibility and capability for science Overall program impact potential is very high n.a. Varies by element Moderate reductions in hardware development and fabrication Probably applies to selected missions
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--> Specifying the Delta-lite launch system has the unintended consequences of indirectly limiting the top weight and implicitly dictating the cost of the spacecraft, thus limiting the applicability of new low-cost technology. Commonality with the Mars 1998 mission is encouraged as having the lowest perceived risk and the lowest perceived development costs. The government has constrained the ability to trade instrument costs against spacecraft and launch vehicles, and minimal dollars are available for the development of key instruments. After citing examples of potentially more cost-effective options that had been precluded by the imposed constraints, the working group suggested a better approach to meeting mission requirements that would include creation of a new, single, open procurement application of acquisition reform principles (i.e., tell potential offerors "what" is required, not "how" to do it) expansion of the architectural tradespace encouragement of broad participation by the science community The benefits of this approach would be the elimination of constraints, the use of the latest low-cost technologies, exploitation of new launcher competitions, and the ability to respond to evolving goals for the exploration of Mars. Drawbacks would include, of course, the costs of a new procurement and the risks inherent in programmatic uncertainties. In the context of the mission, the group encouraged consideration of the following: Opening the 2001 and 2003 flights to single integrated bids, thereby creating a "commercial critical mass" worth bidding on. Source selection should be based on "best value" science, and all funds available should be specified to eliminate "buy-ins." Creating a science-based statement of operational objectives based on top-level Mars science objectives to open the architectural tradespace to an innovative mix of spacecraft and launchers, to broaden science competition and participation, and to provide incentives for instrument development. Encouraging the formation of Discovery-style teams made up of participants from science, industry, and universities. Selecting the implementation team based on the best plan rather than the best gadget. Working Group 3 J. Eugene Farr, Chair The five primary factors for achieving low-cost Earth-orbiting space science missions were addressed. The working group chair prefaced his presentation of
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--> the first factor, the policy environment, with the observation that these are important truths that should be promulgated through government and industry. He further noted that the opening presenters and the working groups are all agreed on their importance. Provided with the Earth-observing scenario for the Windstar mission, the working group first identified the factors they believed critical for the achievement of a low-cost Earth-orbiting space science mission and then applied these factors as a template to the Windstar mission. The group completed its assignment with an examination of the costs of the mission. The group defined a good policy environment by the following characteristics and conditions: stability—a bad stable policy is sometimes better than a good unstable one—fluctuating budgets and policy changes are examples of instabilities that negatively impact program costs sensitivity to and involvement of the public and the science community—NASA has a clear mandate to publicize space science to ensure that the public truly agrees that NASA is promoting national interests information (public relations) on projects clear statement of policy policy incorporating research strategy and thrusts policy tied to defined national theme or mission allowance for and encouragement, but not mandate for, international and Department of Defense cooperation and cost sharing program flexibility in choosing launch systems, operations structure, technologies, etc.; selection of the best for the program Project selection objectives should be focused on what is needed, not on what is desired. A decision process that goes from policy through objectives to project specifics should include all parties with an interest, including end users of the data. Synergism between different science measurements and projects hosted on one vehicle should be included in the decision making. The goal should be to achieve the best architecture for the mission, not the smallest size. The project should be considered in light of other ongoing activities, and cost and technical risks should be evaluated. Acquisition strategy considerations included the suggestion of an overall examination of all projects in concert with the U.S. budget for space science. This would result in the deletion of some projects, but would provide funding stability for those retained. Keen attention should be directed to the up-front systems engineering process when both the basic technical and the managerial structure of the program is chosen. Faulty decisions made in this phase will result in driving up the costs of the entire project. Instrument alternatives should be subjected to test and analysis prior to selection, and technologies should be examined for readiness. The importance of multiyear funding as a cost savings was echoed again by the findings of this
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--> group. Other factors were discussed, such as early establishment of the funding profile, elimination of unnecessary documentation and procurement requirements, provision of incentives for government project managers, "buy versus own," and independence of the science community from government and contractors. Care should be given to adhering to proven principles of program management and systems engineering. Clear definition of requirements; development of a risk management plan that includes cost, schedule, and performance criteria; avoidance of the "not invented here" syndrome; and attention to development and maintenance of the plan to transition to an operational system are examples of these principles. The group then applied its factors as a template to evaluate the Windstar scenario. The mission goals fit within policy as stated in NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, but the objectives of ocean vector wind measurements were unclear and should be re-evaluated. Many technology options, such as a wide variety of launch vehicles, available communications systems, and existing buses, could result in considerable savings, but do not appear to have been considered. The working group completed its study with the application of an existing cost model. Working Group 4 Liam P. Sarsfield, Chair Working Group 4 began with an analysis of the Windstar mission requirements, performed an analysis of potential cost-reduction options for Windstar, and then concluded with broader space science mission cost-reduction suggestions. By assuming that a new instrument is required and that a traditional approach to designing small missions will be employed, the mission definition precluded a thorough test of the cost-reduction process. In this sense, the Windstar mission as presented was overconstrained and "too real." Three distinct mission objectives were identified: a science requirement, a technology requirement, and an operational requirement. It was noted that, although the science requirement may be sufficient in itself, the other two would not stand alone. The working group also noted that, as the number of objectives increases, the number of cost-reduction options decreases. Although the spacecraft and payload were overspecified, the group analyzed Windstar spacecraft characteristics to develop cost-reduction options within the constraints. The major cost elements were specified as the spacecraft, the instrument, launch costs, and five years of operational costs. The group also included instrument advanced technology development and a contingency budget. The group identified the most important factors in reducing Windstar mission costs as instrument advanced technology development, leverage of commercial systems, alternative launch vehicle options, and maximum use of existing infrastructure. Applying their experience in these areas, the working group developed
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--> TABLE D-2 Cost-Reduction Options Cost Reduction Options Science Technology Operational Off-the-shelf bus X X X Data purchase X Airborne assets X X Low-cost launch vehicle X X X Re-fly existing instrument X Place instrument on communication satellite X X X Earth-based wind sensors X Resource requirements X X X Outsource ground segment X X X bracketed estimates for costs of each element. Options, from re-flying an existing instrument to using Earth-based or airborne sensors, were evaluated for their applicability to each of the requirements. Although many options for performing the required science at a lower cost appeared feasible, only a handful of options applied to all three sets of requirements. The most widely applicable options were use of an off-the-shelf bus, use of a low-cost launch vehicle, piggybacking the mission on a communications satellite, outsourcing the ground segment, and re-evaluating the requirements. The Working Group did find the potential for significant cost reduction in the Windstar mission, although wide variability in bus costs, launch costs, and the cost of operations forced the high end of the bracket well over the NASA $100 million mark (see Table D-2 and Figure D-1). Dry Mass: 225 kg Instrument: 100 kg Bus: 125 kg Structure: 30 kg Power system: 20 kg ACS: 35 kg Propulsion: 15 kg C&DH: 25 kg Power (BOL): 400 W Instrument: 300 W Bus: 100 W Thermal: passive Pointing accuracy/knowledge Communication rate = 3 Mbps downlink On-board storage = 3 Gbytes Figure D-1 Windstar spacecraft characteristics.
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--> The working group concluded with general thoughts on reducing the cost of space science research. They echoed the other working groups' finding that requirements without rationales are overly constraining. A great deal of progress has already been made toward reducing the cost of spacecraft. The greatest future cost leverage will be obtained in reducing overhead and infrastructure costs. The group found that ground operations, data analysis, and distribution systems are all areas of potential future savings. They also agreed that the ''cost of quality'' or process issues should be addressed in all elements of space missions and infrastructure and suggested full cost accounting as a possible metric. Finally, the working group suggested that all aspects of a program should be optimized as a system. Consideration of life-cycle costs should be broadened to ensure that potential cost savings in future missions are not lost in decisions made today.