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Boeing Move to Texas Hurt Shuttle Analysis-Report
Reuters ^ | Thursday July 31, 2:41 pm ET | Deborah Zabarenko

Posted on 08/02/2003 2:13:23 AM PDT by anymouse

"Brain drain" at Boeing Co. may have contributed to the aerospace giant's flawed analysis that space shuttle Columbia would land safely despite being damaged soon after launch, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday.

Falling debris from Columbia's external fuel tank crashed into the shuttle's left wing, allowing superheated gas to penetrate the craft on re-entry Feb. 1, ultimately tearing the ship apart and killing all seven astronauts aboard.

Boeing's space shuttle team lost many top engineers when it moved to Texas from California in 2001, contributing to poor analysis during the doomed Columbia flight, according to the Times report.

Investigators will likely cite "brain drain" as part of Boeing's conclusion that the shuttle would land safely despite being damaged shortly after launch, the newspaper reported, citing sources familiar with an ongoing review.

A spokeswoman for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board had no immediate comment on the Times story. The board's final report is expected later this month.

Chicago-based Boeing, a major NASA contractor which also runs the world's largest commercial jet business and the No. 2 U.S. military contractor, said the move to Texas had no impact on the quality of its analysis.

"It is true there were a fairly high number of engineers that left (the program), but they didn't leave the company. If we needed them, we could get them and that certainly had no impact on the analysis," Boeing spokesman Ed Memi told Reuters.

Some 80 percent of the 500 Boeing technical engineers in Huntington Beach, California, declined to move to Houston with the NASA program, requiring Boeing to hire and train engineers locally that lacked the experience of the existing team, the Times reported.

The Boeing team's assessment that Columbia was relatively intact helped NASA leaders decide to continue with normal landing procedures.

According to the Times, Boeing engineers in Huntington Beach have said they would have reached a different conclusion, which Boeing denied.

"The Huntington Beach engineers were part of the analysis, so it would be hard to come up with a different conclusion," Memi said. "If there were engineers at Huntington Beach not involved in the analysis who felt otherwise, they never made their concerns known."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; Government; Technical; US: California; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: boeing; caib; columbia; goliath; nasa; shuttle; space; sts107
A lot of Boeing workers at Huntington Beach refused to move to Texas despite generous relocation packages, keeping their high salaries, no state income taxes, and much lower cost of living in Houston, when engineering work shifted to the less expensive operations location. Boeing bent over backwards to get these workers to move and bumped Houston workers to make way for the few that did come. Frankly most were hoping to hold out for an early retirement buy-out offer rather than end their careers in Houston.

When so few California engineers moved to Houston after a long drawn out effort to entice them to move, Boeing paniced and filled the jobs with workers inexperienced in space systems from engineers from other Boeing facilites (Seattle, St. Louis and Wichita) that would be laid-off if they didn't move to Houston.

A similar thing happend when Boeing was given the space station prime contract back in 1993. Where the dreges of Boeing's empire replaced experienced SSEIC (Grumman, Loral and Booz Allen) engineers in Houston, when no one in Houston was hiring for almost a year afterwards. I was one of those SSEIC-raficed and have been waiting a decade for Boeing's comeupance as their corrupt, inept and preditory business practices are finally becoming very public.

1 posted on 08/02/2003 2:13:24 AM PDT by anymouse
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To: *Space
space ping
2 posted on 08/02/2003 2:16:03 AM PDT by anymouse
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To: bonesmccoy; XBob; wirestripper; tubebender; computermechanic; NormsRevenge; Budge; Resolute; ...
allow me ;-)
3 posted on 08/02/2003 3:34:46 AM PDT by snopercod
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To: anymouse
"It is true there were a fairly high number of engineers that left (the program), but they didn't leave the company. If we needed them, we could get them and that certainly had no impact on the analysis," Boeing spokesman Ed Memi told Reuters.

Uh huh. Because you can just call up someone after they've been out of the loop for 3 years and say "Er, you know about part X, if Y happens to it will Z occur?"
It sounds like Boeing lost a lot of good employees in the move, and now we see what happens as a result.
4 posted on 08/02/2003 5:12:36 AM PDT by lelio
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To: anymouse
This is nonsense.
5 posted on 08/02/2003 5:19:42 AM PDT by ItisaReligionofPeace ((the original))
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To: anymouse
Gee, LA/CA blames TX. No spin or ulterior motives here...
6 posted on 08/02/2003 5:22:27 AM PDT by mewzilla
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To: anymouse
The way I read the article, the California engineers simply preferred to stay in California for personal reasons. If they're still with Boeing, as the article says, I'd like to know what they're working on.
7 posted on 08/02/2003 5:38:29 AM PDT by liberallarry
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To: anymouse
>>...If we needed them, we could get them and that certainly had no impact on the analysis," ...<<

Bullsh*t!

Anybody that's ever worked for a large corporation knows about corporate political boundaries. No manager is gonna basically "crawl on his knees" and ask for help from outside his own group.

The manager of the Texas group ain't gonna bring in "outsiders" because then that would be ADMITTING they had hired incompetant workers and were unable to fulfill thier contract.

8 posted on 08/02/2003 5:55:09 AM PDT by FReepaholic (My other tag line is hilarious.)
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To: mewzilla
That's just what I was thinking - if they can blame Texas, they can "extreme spin" it so that the whole disaster is due to GW Bush! I'm a Houstonian living in California, so I can sure understand the dilemma those Boeing workers were in about an offered move to Houston. However, if the plant moves and you're in such a rare occupation, you have to go where the jobs are!
9 posted on 08/02/2003 5:55:22 AM PDT by Moonmad27
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To: snopercod
ROTFL!
10 posted on 08/02/2003 7:54:19 AM PDT by bonesmccoy (Defeat the terrorists... Vaccinate!)
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To: snopercod; Budge; XBob; wirestripper; All
""It is true there were a fairly high number of engineers that left (the program), but they didn't leave the company. If we needed them, we could get them and that certainly had no impact on the analysis," Boeing spokesman Ed Memi told Reuters."
end quote


Dear Mr. Memi,

When Boeing bought Rockwell's STSD in Downey, Boeing essentially lost most of the core engineer staff that actually built the vehicle during the consolidation of Downey and Huntington Beach.

It is not surprising that the impact of foam on the RCC would have created enough damage to adversely impact safe flight. Nearly everyone on the TPS team at Downey knew this because the computer programs that modeled reentry heating consistently demonstrated these issues in simulations run over the past ten years.

Unfortunately, it appears that the TPS staff at JSC and Boeing Houston did not fully consult with the engineers who were familiar with the design of vehicle. Why? The answer is obvious.

While NASA's own staff were conjecturing about the nature of the impact via email, the Rockwell TPS staff would have completed a full analysis and predicted intervention required to save the lives of the crew. But, the existing TPS team at Boeing did not match the expertise of the veterans who ran the TPS offices in Downey.

Boeing management bears responsibility because of their inability to accurately identify the key engineers who were responsible for flight safety. Those engineers belonged to the team at STSD in Downey.

How many staff from 1980 actually work the program today?

Premature dismissal of the engineers lead to this problem.

Dittemore was a kid when the original workforce built the orbiter fleet.

It appears now that Boeing is appropriately the focus of some attention.

Rehire the engineers that knew the systems, and you can return to flight quickly and safely.

On the other hand, you can keep trying to struggle with know-nothings... and you can keep melting 2 billion dollar space planes.
11 posted on 08/02/2003 8:06:06 AM PDT by bonesmccoy (Defeat the terrorists... Vaccinate!)
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To: tscislaw
You are so right, I was a manager for a couple of years, and I would ask other managers what they thought about this idea or that, ask to borrow a programmer for a task here and there.
Now I am a programmer again, My "Team" produced the highest quantity and quality code, by far. The training department even used it as an example of how code should be designed and written. But becuase I was not above seeking expertise and admitting problems, I was replaced as a manager. Now they kept me as a programmer and designer cause they know how good I am. But it kinds sucks to do really good work and get a slap in the face.

If te Ca engineers had been out of the loop for 2 or years years I don't think they could have helped much. One can forget a lot of details in 3 years.

12 posted on 08/02/2003 8:13:58 AM PDT by jpsb
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To: jpsb
In addition, these California guys were more than likely working on a different contract with a different customer.

If Houston had "borrowed" some of these guys, they could not have charged thier time to the CA customer. They would have to pass that cost to NASA or "eat" the cost themselves. All the time paying for the analysts in Houston.

Again, what manager is going to admit that his team can't do the job?

I worked at the Kennedy Space Center for 13 years. I was all over that place, working with everyone from the Center Director, to Astronauts, to the guys in the cable tunnels underground.

I can say that ALL the technicians, engineers, scientists and the like that I met were TOTALLY dedicated to the mission.

13 posted on 08/02/2003 8:35:49 AM PDT by FReepaholic (My other tag line is hilarious.)
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To: jpsb
12 - "If te Ca engineers had been out of the loop for 2 or years years I don't think they could have helped much. "

You obviously haven't reviewed our thread by veterans who have been out of the loop for more than 10 years.

What happened, and how it happened, and pretty much why it happened was properly postulated in just a few days, and then gradually backed up.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/835531/posts
14 posted on 08/02/2003 5:06:52 PM PDT by XBob
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To: anymouse
Suggestion: follow Iraq's example. Dig a couple big holes and bury the Space Shuttles. Start over. Start with a goal of reaching an end this time, not a means. Most immoral of NASA and NASA's Beltway controllers to develop a means without a purpose. Institutional immorality. It would have been better overall to have done nothing with manned spaceflight the last 30 years.
15 posted on 08/02/2003 5:11:44 PM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
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To: XBob
XBob,

Those remarks were pretty funny/humorous.

Thanks for your contribution!

- Leonard McCoy
16 posted on 08/02/2003 11:10:59 PM PDT by bonesmccoy (Defeat the terrorists... Vaccinate!)
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To: XBob
Good to see you again, I always appreciated your analysis on the subject...
17 posted on 08/02/2003 11:15:12 PM PDT by Central Scrutiniser (My only desire is to pester Mojo and Nick.)
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To: RightWhale; bonesmccoy
15 - "Most immoral of NASA and NASA's Beltway controllers to develop a means without a purpose. "

That is why space travel will never develop commercially, until we find our modern 'silk farms', 'spice islands', or 'gold rush'. We have no 'destination' or 'purpose'.
18 posted on 08/03/2003 3:57:03 PM PDT by XBob
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To: Central Scrutiniser
17- Thanks
19 posted on 08/03/2003 3:59:19 PM PDT by XBob
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To: XBob; snopercod; Budge; RonDog; NormsRevenge; ALOHA RONNIE; wirestripper; All
There have been innumerable opportunities to develop LEO or GEO. However, the cost of accessing the orbit has been insurmountable because NASA basically killed any organization that attempted to privatize the "railroad".

This is our generation's greatest opportunity to overthrow/revolutionize space travel.

The cost of the orbiter program is way too high.

We should have had a second generation space plane 20 years ago. Reagan asked for it and NASP was the program.

Clinton killed it.

===> MR. PRESIDENT- Please use this opportunity to reconstruct our national aerospace and defense capability. BUILD a SSTO.... may be you can call it the World AeroSpike Plane (WASP).

Opps... not PC.

Let's try this one... Private United States Spaceplane...

Um...hmm...

I think I see why this project never got off the ground... there wasn't a good acronym to explain what the heck we're building!

GO RUTAN!

20 posted on 08/03/2003 10:10:26 PM PDT by bonesmccoy (Defeat the terrorists... Vaccinate!)
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To: bonesmccoy
The 1st Thing CLINTON did for Space was to kill America's Space Station Program in favor of the now Joint Russia-American Program called Space Station 'ALPHA'..!!

America's Space Station was to be called The 'FREEDOM' Space Station.

Yes, BILL CLINTON made sure that...

...there would be no 'FREEDOM' in Space.
21 posted on 08/03/2003 10:25:55 PM PDT by ALOHA RONNIE (Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 www.LZXRAY.com ..)
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To: ALOHA RONNIE
yup... all the guys I know called the changes to space station "RALPHA" for Russian-Alpha.

Also, "ralpha" as in "barf".
22 posted on 08/03/2003 10:54:18 PM PDT by bonesmccoy (Defeat the terrorists... Vaccinate!)
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To: bonesmccoy
...Thanks, bones, I needed that.
23 posted on 08/04/2003 5:57:35 AM PDT by ALOHA RONNIE (Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 www.LZXRAY.com ..)
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To: bonesmccoy; snopercod; wirestripper; Central Scrutiniser
20 - I and my brother (who worked for NASA at the time (in the 70's) when NASA was prohibitied by congress from building the shuttle they wanted, and was forced to make a 'cheaper' shuttle. To get it through congress, they designed it so that it was to be built in 75 different congressional districts (bringing jobs to each of the districts). The whole program became a 'jobs' program.

He and I were there in the 80's when they tried to 'privatize' space at Cape Canaveral (not Kennedy Space Center), and all the experienced people were 'jobs program' people, who had no idea about 'commercial feasibility' and saving money - their main goals were to spend money. And they just couldn't bring themselves to even understand the concept. This was the 'missed' opportunity.

Xlinton just sent the technology and work to his fellow communist buddies in China and Russia. So, the opportunity, which was, is gone, and has been for some time now. We can only hope NASA accidentally discovers gold on Mars or something.
24 posted on 08/04/2003 1:13:50 PM PDT by XBob
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To: XBob
I think I already related how I saved the taxpayers $250,000 per year by re-flowing a major integrated shuttle test. I tightened it up so that instead of 48 hours long, it could be performed in 32 hours. Hundreds of people had to be on-station for the entire test.

When my management found out, they took the test away from me and put it back like it was before.

That one incident was what made me decide to leave. There were other reasons of course, but that pushed me over the brink.

25 posted on 08/04/2003 2:13:58 PM PDT by snopercod
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To: bonesmccoy
Well we new all was lost when "Freedom" died and the Russians became our "partners."
26 posted on 08/04/2003 9:01:02 PM PDT by anymouse
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To: anymouse
"Well we new all was lost when "Freedom" died and the Russians became our "partners.""

That is a rather profound statement of fact!

I suppose we can point to the fact that Reagan designed Freedom.

Clinton-Gore designed ralph.
27 posted on 08/04/2003 10:10:12 PM PDT by bonesmccoy (Defeat the terrorists... Vaccinate!)
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To: ALOHA RONNIE
You're welcome Ronnie... nothing like little Ralpha bits in the morning.
28 posted on 08/04/2003 10:12:00 PM PDT by bonesmccoy (Defeat the terrorists... Vaccinate!)
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