NASA Program Management Council 23 May 2007: Lunar Lander Project


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Third Item of Business: Lunar Lander Project

Lauri Hansen, Lunar Lander Project Manager, provided an overview and status of the Constellation Lunar Lander project top-level vision and project plan.

  • Cost estimates for a traditional phase A/B approach could not be justified considering the available budget. Two alternatives were considered, defer any significant work until 2011/2012 when budget would be available or pursue a different approach. The Constellation program recommended an alternate approach be pursued and that a senior level steering committee be established to shape and guide the approach.
  • The two main goals are to get smart on the design by producing and validating agood set of requirements and to try a different approach that will allow a more streamlined Phase A/B. The long-term vision is that by the time the contract is let that NASA is smart enough to know what is needed, has an excellent set of requirements, and can streamline the development process.
  • Hansen provided details of the approach, schedule, in-house design team, project team, and steering committee.
  • Hansen concluded that that the team has a long-term vision for where they want to be in 2011/2012, an implementation plan for the next 12 months, and is developing implementation options for the project once the preliminary in-house design is completed.

Members questioned Hansen about the lessons learned from the Apollo program, specifically the high cost of the lander compared to the overall program and the drivers for cost. Hansen replied that they are trying to understand what contributed to the high cost of the Apollo lander and are integrating the lessons learn~d. Given that weight was such a contributing factor on Apollo they are bringing in industry experts on materials to lower the risk and gain a better understanding. Special notices to industry and website postings have been used to solicit information, and Hansen anticipates using Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) and Requests for Information (RFIs) in the future to support the process.

There was a discussion of when the lander would be contracted out. As a point of reference, Hansen noted that Ares is being designed in-house through Critical Design Review (CDR) and the Orion design stayed in-house through Systems Requirement Review (SRR). Hansen stated that they want to keep the lander design in-house beyond SRR but probably not as far as CDR. Members questioned if the option of building the lander completely in-house had been considered. Hansen replied that this will be an ongoing production effort and would not be well suited for the government. Other options discussed ranged from building the first lander in-house then contracting out from there to bringing in the contractor early and contracting out the whole thing. Geveden replied that what NASA wants to do is be able to make an intelligent decision when the time comes.

PMC Action 2: Lunar Lander Project add a Science Mission Directorate representative to the Lunar Lander steering committee.

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