From: Zero Gravity Corporation
Posted: Thursday, July 1, 2010
On June 18, 2010, the Office of Inspector General released an Audit Report of NASA's Microgravity Flight Services as provided by Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G). The report's principal recommendation was that NASA should restructure ZERO-G's current contract. ZERO-G would welcome the opportunity for the restructure in terms of addressing the appropriate measure of parabola quality and to assure NASA's continued access to microgravity flight services from ZERO-G.
It is incorrect to assume that raw parabolic microgravity data and the associated requirements of the Statement of Work are valid tools for comparing the performance of different aircraft. The Glenn Research Center developed the Parabolic Aircraft Acceleration Measurement System (PAAMS) unit in order to create a baseline compensation incentive for ZERO-G's operation of its aircraft, not to compare performance against other aircraft and crews. NASA's own pre-contract due diligence determined that ZERO-G had the required capability to be awarded the contract. Furthermore, it is impossible to fairly assess ZERO-G's microgravity performance this early into the existing contract; considering less than 10 percent has been exercised, out of a total potential $25 million contract value.
It is important to note that the report highlights that the cost-effectiveness of maintaining the operations-ready status of the C-9 and currency of its crew has never been assessed. Since the primary threat to ZERO-G's service continuity to NASA is its own insufficient demand, NASA may be a contributor to this risk and should assess the benefit of continuing to invest in the C-9 versus restructuring the current contract with ZERO-G.
To date, ZERO-G has invested over $1.5 million to improve its baseline commercial capability to meet NASA's requirements. Total net revenue from the past two years has not allowed ZERO-G to recoup its initial investment.
ZERO-G has delivered a safe, reliable and cost-effective service to NASA. The company remains committed to continuing to improve its microgravity quality and looks forward to working with NASA to make the Microgravity Flight Services program a model for success in future partnerships with the commercial space industry.
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