3

The National Facilities Study

DESCRIPTION OF THE STUDY PROCESS

The NFS is an interagency cooperative effort intended to:

  • determine where U.S. facilities do not meet national aerospace needs;

  • define new facilities required to make U.S. capabilities world class;

  • define where consolidation and phaseout of existing facilities is appropriate; and

  • develop a long-term national plan for world-class facility acquisition and shared usage. 13

To accomplish these objectives, an oversight group, chaired by John Dailey from NASA and vice-chaired by Charles Adolph from DoD, was formed to oversee the work of the interagency task team, directed by Richard Kline. The task team was organized into task groups to examine aeronautics R&D, space R&D, space operations facilities, and facilities costing and engineering. Each of these task groups was supported by working groups in key specialty areas. The task and working groups gathered information on government and industry facilities through interviews and inventory data requests and met periodically during 1993 and early 1994. An industry forum was held at Kennedy Space Center to gather specific company comments.

The approach taken by the task and working groups was simultaneously (1) to define facilities needs based on civil, defense, and commercial mission requirements, and (2) to create a facilities inventory data base that included NASA, DoD, other government, and industrial facilities. The task groups then analyzed the resulting data, comparing facility needs with existing capabilities to determine areas of overlap and underutilization, as well as shortfalls and gaps. It is important to note that this analysis focused on government-owned facilities. 14

The assessment of facilities needs is based on two mission requirements models, a baseline model and an excursion model. Each model includes projections for the civil, commercial, and defense market sectors. These requirements models are largely based on the results obtained in similar recent studies, such as the Civil Needs Data Base developed as part of the NASA Access to Space Study and the Bottom-Up Review of the DoD conducted in 1993. The baseline requirements model assumes that there will be only selected upgrades to the current expendable launch vehicle (ELV) and Shuttle fleet, and current programs such as Mission to Planet Earth will continue. Excursions to the baseline envision a new cargo-carrying vehicle, a shuttle replacement, and a next-generation launch system (i.e., single stage to orbit). It also envisions launch of the next generation of great observatories, continued military uses, and overall growth in commercial uses of space.

The inventory data base was developed by NASA using a modified version of the Air Force Integrated Technology and Assessment System, which is used to track space hardware. The inventory is intended to capture relevant R&D and operations facilities in all government agencies and industry. At this writing, 78 sites had been surveyed

13  

These objectives were described to the committee in a briefing by Richard Kline, NFS Task Team director, February 7, 1994.

14

According to a briefing to the committee on December 10, 1993, the NFS did not address contractor-owned facilities because the task groups believed market forces would dictate consolidations and closures of private facilities.



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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS 3 The National Facilities Study DESCRIPTION OF THE STUDY PROCESS The NFS is an interagency cooperative effort intended to: determine where U.S. facilities do not meet national aerospace needs; define new facilities required to make U.S. capabilities world class; define where consolidation and phaseout of existing facilities is appropriate; and develop a long-term national plan for world-class facility acquisition and shared usage. 13 To accomplish these objectives, an oversight group, chaired by John Dailey from NASA and vice-chaired by Charles Adolph from DoD, was formed to oversee the work of the interagency task team, directed by Richard Kline. The task team was organized into task groups to examine aeronautics R&D, space R&D, space operations facilities, and facilities costing and engineering. Each of these task groups was supported by working groups in key specialty areas. The task and working groups gathered information on government and industry facilities through interviews and inventory data requests and met periodically during 1993 and early 1994. An industry forum was held at Kennedy Space Center to gather specific company comments. The approach taken by the task and working groups was simultaneously (1) to define facilities needs based on civil, defense, and commercial mission requirements, and (2) to create a facilities inventory data base that included NASA, DoD, other government, and industrial facilities. The task groups then analyzed the resulting data, comparing facility needs with existing capabilities to determine areas of overlap and underutilization, as well as shortfalls and gaps. It is important to note that this analysis focused on government-owned facilities. 14 The assessment of facilities needs is based on two mission requirements models, a baseline model and an excursion model. Each model includes projections for the civil, commercial, and defense market sectors. These requirements models are largely based on the results obtained in similar recent studies, such as the Civil Needs Data Base developed as part of the NASA Access to Space Study and the Bottom-Up Review of the DoD conducted in 1993. The baseline requirements model assumes that there will be only selected upgrades to the current expendable launch vehicle (ELV) and Shuttle fleet, and current programs such as Mission to Planet Earth will continue. Excursions to the baseline envision a new cargo-carrying vehicle, a shuttle replacement, and a next-generation launch system (i.e., single stage to orbit). It also envisions launch of the next generation of great observatories, continued military uses, and overall growth in commercial uses of space. The inventory data base was developed by NASA using a modified version of the Air Force Integrated Technology and Assessment System, which is used to track space hardware. The inventory is intended to capture relevant R&D and operations facilities in all government agencies and industry. At this writing, 78 sites had been surveyed 13   These objectives were described to the committee in a briefing by Richard Kline, NFS Task Team director, February 7, 1994. 14 According to a briefing to the committee on December 10, 1993, the NFS did not address contractor-owned facilities because the task groups believed market forces would dictate consolidations and closures of private facilities.

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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS (11 NASA, 30 DoD, 10 Department of Energy, 3 National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and 24 industry), containing 1,500 buildings and over 2,800 facilities. (Table 3-1 lists the types of facilities in the inventory.) Data requested include general information on name, location, size, replacement value, utilization rate, type specifications, and performance parameters. Contacts for additional information are also included for each entry. Table 3-1: Facilities Inventory Assembly Command Destruct Communications Computational Support/Computer Operations Data Archive/Storage Environmental Simulation/Experimentation Flight Experiment Ground Support (e.g., Clean Room) Human Factors/Biomedical Landing Operations Launch Launch Processing/Operations Launch Processing/Booster Launch Processing/Ordnance Manufacturing Materials Mission Operations On-Orbit Mission Control Centers Operational Simulation/Demonstration Operations Payload Operations Processing Propulsion Testing Range Recovery Operations Research Laboratory Rocket Propulsion Ground Test Facility Support Test Chambers Test Stands Test Beds Tracking and Data Acquisition Training Wind Tunnels Based on the mission requirements models, the inventory findings, and additional information gathered through site visits and other studies, the task and working groups assessed opportunities for closure, consolidation, and joint use of government facilities, as well as needed modifications/upgrades and new facilities. These assessments are presented in a series of recommendations on specific facilities, which fall into the following categories: Category 1: Assesses the capabilities and condition of the facility and develops a firm recommendation—consolidate, close, modify, transfer, enhance, or no change. 1A: Recommends changes to the status quo or advocates continuing changes that are consistent with NFS objectives. 1B: Recommends no change. Category 2: Further study is required; the necessary analysis and evaluation are still in progress. Category 3: No recommendations were made due to lack of data, insufficient time to assess the data, or, in some instances, an initial assessment determined that no significant cost savings could be realized. All the facilities described in the inventory data base have not been evaluated. Selection for analysis was based on data availability, experience and knowledge of team members, and selected site visits by the working groups. Overall, the members of the task team concluded that mission requirements for the next 30 years can be met with existing facilities, with only minor upgrades and maintenance required. They also concluded that the excursions to the baseline can be met with upgrades and modifications to current facilities. Exceptions would be for extended time on the Moon or human exploration of Mars. In addition, they found overcapacity in some areas of space R&D facilities that could be alleviated through a single national management authority responsible for coordinating usage and pricing. The task team emphasized the point that significant savings from closure and consolidation of

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SPACE FACILITIES: MEETING FUTURE NEEDS FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND OPERATIONS facilities to reduce overcapacity can only result by reducing personnel. The point was also made that further review of the roles and missions of the various agencies engaged in space activities could provide the basis for significant cost reductions in the future. The NFS summary recommendations are included in Appendix B . GENERAL ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERAGENCY REPORT Given the relatively short time available to the task team and working groups to pull together much information and analysis about the current space facilities infrastructure, the Committee on Space Facilities believes that many aspects of the study were performed very well. The inventory of more than 2,800 facilities will be an important resource especially if it continues to be updated and maintained as the NFS report recommends. Although some important facilities, such as the new Earth-Observing Satellite Landsat command and receiving ground station in Oklahoma and facilities for simulating the natural radiation environment, are not included, and more work is needed to include as many industry facilities as possible, the initial effort to construct the inventory has been strong. The data in the inventory provide the basis for a much better understanding of the resources available in the national facilities infrastructure and extensive information on which to base rational decisions about current and future facilities needs. The working groups have used the inventory data and other information to make a set of well-reasoned recommendations that include estimates of cost savings and steps for implementation. Because of the current budget environment, however, the requirements models used by the task team envision very little change from the status quo. The recommendations for facilities changes based on these models, therefore, are timid. For instance, in the case of space operations facilities, only 17 percent of the 912 facilities inventoried are affected by the 40 category 1A recommendations for change, while 45 percent received 1B (No Change) recommendations; the remaining 38 percent were category 2 or 3, with no change recommended pending further study or more data. 15 In the recommendations for change, the emphasis is on reducing annual operating costs by closing some facilities while modifying and consolidating others. Though the potential savings from changes in roles and missions are recognized, such changes are not addressed. Similarly, improving the use of facilities through more consistent pricing policies is a recognized need, but the NFS only suggests further study. Although some new facilities requirements are articulated, the committee believes that there is too little attention to future needs to fulfill that aspect of the NFS objectives. This general critique of the NFS underlies the Committee on Space Facilities' assessment of the effort. Although the committee recognizes the importance of cutting costs, the space facilities analysis is not well balanced between the restrained approach driven by shrinking budgets and the future vision needed to begin planning for new and upgraded facilities. Some of the needed future analysis could be accomplished by additional reviews; this includes the review of roles and missions to generate future efficiencies and the review of other policies such as pricing. Systematic studies of both of these issues are major recommendations of the task team with which this committee strongly agrees. If the NFS is ultimately to respond to the questions posed to the task team, more attention to long-term issues, particularly innovative approaches to meeting long-term national objectives in space, is a necessity. The following chapter presents this committee's views and recommendations on specific issues that deserve more attention. 15   Space Operations Facilities Task Group, National Facilities Study, Volume 4, Section II.

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