Mr. William H. GerstenmaierAssociate Administrator, Space Operations Mission DirectorateNational Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Statement ofWilliam H. GerstenmaierAssociate Administrator for Space OperationsNational Aeronautics and Space Administrationbefore theSubcommittee on Space, Aeronautics, and Related SciencesCommittee on Commerce, Science and TransportationUnited States SenateMr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss NASA’s efforts as we prepare for the Space Shuttle's retirement and work to develop the new human space exploration vehicles. This "transition" provides us with a unique opportunity to reinvent and revitalize NASA's human spaceflight program and make it more efficient by focusing on the evolution of our skilled workers and our facilities and infrastructure. Never in the almost 50-year history of the Agency has a task of this magnitude been undertaken. The kind of sweeping changes that this transition will bring can be daunting. But what I tell my workforce, and what I truly believe, is this: "We are not going out of business; we are starting a new business." We have the unique opportunity to be performing the most complicated space assembly activities ever attempted, preparing the International Space Station (ISS) to become a National Laboratory, and developing the systems that will be used for human exploration of the solar system. These activities will require us all to work together and provide leadership and focus, as many activities compete with each other for time and resources. Performing these activities successfully will inspire the next generation and maintain our world leadership role in space. This is a great time to be in the space business.For the next four years, NASA’s top priority is to safely fly the remaining Shuttle flights to complete assembly of the International Space Station (ISS). At the same time, the Agency is preparing to bring the new U.S. human spaceflight capabilities on-line soon thereafter. With the retirement of the Shuttle in 2010, NASA will fundamentally shift from the current primary focus on operations to one in which we develop new systems, conduct research on the ISS, and re-establish the capability for space exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit, with the ultimate goal of returning to the Moon, going to Mars and beyond. These are significant challenges, and we need help from Congress to succeed, specifically by supporting the Vision for Space Exploration, approving the President’s FY 2008 budget for NASA at the requested levels and approving the workforce transition and facilities management tools in the legislative proposal that NASA recently submitted to Congress. I appreciate the leadership of this Subcommittee and the Congress in enacting the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-155); this legislation is a good example of the support that you have already provided.An effective transition of workforce, facilities, and contractor support from the Space Shuttle program to the new Constellation program will be jeopardized by a prolonged gap between Shuttle operations and the Initial Operating Capability of Orion and Ares, such as the gap which developed between the Apollo-Soyuz program and the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle. Our job as a leadership team is to actively manage the gap, ensure that our workforce skills are rebalanced to meet the evolved focus of the Agency, and effectively communicate our actions and goals to all of our stakeholders, most importantly our employees.Funding limitations and hardware development lead times will not allow us to overlap Shuttle and Constellation capabilities. We know there will be a gap -- our job is to keep this gap to a minimum, and with your help, this can be accomplished. I am often asked why NASA does not just extend the Shuttle program to close the gap. The primary reason I give is that the high fixed costs of the Shuttle program do not allow that strategy to work. Extending the Shuttle program a year would cost approximately $3-4 billion per year. These funds would come from Constellation development and, consequently, would only extend the gap. Another reason is that the Shuttle is an extremely complicated vehicle to operate. Many systems interact with others. Consider the interaction of foam from the tank on the Shuttle as an example. Safely operating this complex vehicle is not easy. NASA has chosen to use the Shuttle with this safety complexity for only those missions requiring the Shuttle’s unique capabilities. The assembly of the ISS, Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, and ISS spares carried on the logistics flights all require the unique capability of the Shuttle. Once these missions are complete, NASA needs to transition to the simpler and safer Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) as soon as feasible. We believe that human spaceflight is a strategic capability for this Nation, and we recognize the important role NASA plays in ensuring the U.S. maintains this capability.Transition starts with phasing out the Space Shuttle and bringing CEV online, continues with the research and testing that will take place on the ISS as part of a National Laboratory, and includes using the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to demonstrate new capabilities for re-supply. As the Shuttle approaches its retirement, the ISS Program intends to use alternative cargo and crew transportation services from commercial industry. Once a capability is demonstrated in Phase 1 of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Space Act Agreements, NASA plans to purchase cargo delivery services competitively in Phase 2 and will decide whether to pursue crew demonstrations. NASA will be in an almost continual state of transition as development of one phase of exploration transitions from development to operations. Consequently, what we are establishing now is a transition framework that will serve us through the decades ahead. NASA chose not to create a separate program to manage transition, but instead utilize organizational elements within the existing operating program and the future exploration program. This structure ties transition directly to the safe operation of our programs and allows for a framework for transition to be established within NASA.The goal of transition is to keep the U.S. space workforce fully engaged and moving toward design and development of the new vehicles. Our focus is on life cycle cost and risk management of our workforce, infrastructure, and facilities, including the necessary budget and plans to execute the ambitious agenda at hand. Full funding of NASA’s FY 2008 budget request is critical to ensuring the gap between retirement of the Space Shuttle and America’s new human spaceflight capability does not grow longer. If the gap in our human spaceflight capability extends even further than already planned, I believe our Nation may be ceding leadership in human spaceflight at a time when other nations are outlining ambitious programs of their own.NASA’s transition planning activities emphasize three major themes: 1) safely flying out the Shuttle manifest; 2) closing out and streamlining our facilities and infrastructure; and 3) reorienting our workforce for future missions. We are heading in the right direction and have a robust plan in place with the right people to execute it. We have made great strides this past year and will maintain this momentum as we continue to make substantial and rapid progress in carrying out the challenging space operations and transition tasks ahead.1. Safely Flying Out the Shuttle ManifestWhile we look toward the future, we know we cannot lose sight of the present. NASA is committed to safely flying the Shuttle through its retirement in 2010 to complete construction of the ISS, which will fulfill our commitments to our International Partners and enable us to conduct exploration-focused research onboard. While there are challenges ahead, we have a good, sound plan that places safety above all else. As evidenced by the recent hail storm that caused damage to the STS-117 External Tank, that plan may not go exactly the way we have laid out, but we are prepared to continue working through it and to adjust as needed. We will learn from these challenges and gain experience necessary for future ventures to the Moon and Mars.The Shuttle manifest calls for 13 assembly flights to the ISS, one to service the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition, we could potentially add two ISS logistics flights to the manifest if they are needed and can be flown safely before the Shuttle's 2010 retirement. In order to safely complete these missions, retention of our workforce, with their skills and tremendous dedication, is critical. A recent survey of Shuttle personnel across the NASA field Centers clearly demonstrates that we have highly-motivated people who want to stay for the remainder of the program and see it succeed. As an Agency, we share their pride in the program’s accomplishments and are heartened by their commitment to safety and mission success. As leaders we contribute to this success by showing through our actions a strong commitment to these activities, as well as the promise of exciting future endeavors.2. Infrastructure and FacilitiesThe Shuttle program currently occupies over 600 facilities at both government and contractor sites and has more than 900,000 pieces of equipment. The estimated new acquisition value of these assets is approximately $12 billion for equipment and approximately $5.7 billion for facilities. This is a vast amount of resources that the American people have invested in and entrusted us with. We are committed to leveraging this investment by utilizing Shuttle infrastructure wherever it makes sense in the Constellation programs. We have already made progress in this respect. At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Space Shuttle program has transitioned Firing Room 1 and the Operations and Checkout Building to Constellation. Work is also underway to transition Launch Complex 39B to eventually launch Ares and Orion. At Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the A1 Rocket Test Stand, formerly used to test the Space Shuttle Main Engine, is now testing engines for Constellation. And at Johnson Space Center, key leaders in the ISS program have transitioned to senior management positions in Exploration, bringing with them their technical and programmatic expertise.Since our new spacecraft designs are Shuttle-derived, we can build on the existing infrastructure across the Agency. However, many of our key facilities and infrastructure elements are almost 50 years old in areas prone to aggressive climate impacts and heavy operational demands. As the transition to the next U.S. human spaceflight capability progresses, we have the opportunity to streamline all aspects of our business and provide more value to the American people. We also are assessing our infrastructure to ensure that we have the necessary foundation for the next 30 years of exploration activities.3. WorkforceGuiding the Agency’s transition is the recognition of the critical role played by our approximately 17,000-strong workforce. As the Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Scott Horowitz likes to say, “When folks ask me how we go into space, they expect me to say ‘Rockets and hardware,’ but I think people make the Space Shuttle fly not hardware.” The men and women who work in the Space Shuttle program are some of the Nation’s most skilled, efficient, and committed workers – qualities that the Agency and Nation needs for its future missions and must capitalize upon.As mentioned earlier, the nature of the work these employees will do will change as we transition from Shuttle operations to research and development-focused activities like planning, design, testing and verification for Constellation systems. We are striving to give our employees opportunities to build on their existing skills by working on the new exploration systems, so that when this development work comes on-line, they can easily transition into new positions. Coupled with newly gained skills, our workforce can take the skills honed in Shuttle operations and apply them to the design of the next vehicle to make it fly more efficiently. Preventing a prolonged gap between the last Shuttle flight and the first Orion flight remains the single most important factor in workforce transition. The longer the gap, the more difficult it becomes to retain our needed workforce.As the Constellation System Requirements Reviews are completed this year, NASA will gain a much clearer understanding of the demands for future workforce skills, which will form the foundation for making any future decisions. Although we are proud of recent progress, we acknowledge that more needs to be accomplished. These tasks include matching available skills with future work, managing attrition, retraining and hiring, and using temporary and term appointments to get the flexibility to align our needs with our time-phased workload.NASA remains committed to working with our industry, supplier, and research partners to craft and implement strategies to minimize disruption, upheaval, and economic impact, while maximizing support vital for Shuttle missions and program requirements. As we move forward, we know that clear communication and solid leadership will be key to our success. I cannot stress one point enough - NASA recognizes and values the dedication of its Shuttle workforce. The Agency in return is dedicated to ensuring that those men and women have challenging future work that capitalizes on their unique skills and abilities. Make no mistake there will be changes for our workforce, but if we provide leadership and focus, I am confident that this team will respond. They have overcome difficult challenges in the past: Katrina, hail storms, and the Columbia disaster. If we can give them a vision of the future, they will help us to realize that future. This is the best workforce in the world.ConclusionNASA has many transition challenges ahead of us, but we are on track and making substantial progress in managing a fundamental shift from operating spacecraft in orbit around the Earth to cutting-edge research and development for space exploration that will push humanity out of low-Earth orbit and across the solar system. This is an exciting time for NASA and the Nation.We need your continued support to accomplish this endeavor and to ensure that the United States maintains its status as the world leader in human space exploration. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this important effort, and I would be pleased to respond to any questions that you may have.
Mr. Ron DittemorePresidentATK Launch SystemsStatement ofRon DittemorePresidentATK Launch Systems Groupbefore theSubcommittee on Space, Aeronautics, and Related SciencesCommittee on Commerce, Science and TransportationUnited States SenateMr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss transitioning to a Next Generation Human Space Flight System.I, along with many of my colleagues, am a product of the first great vision to land a man on the moon and return safely to earth. The excitement of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo captivated our attention and stirred our imaginations. As a direct result of this excitement, Aerospace engineering became my particular field of study and I was extremely fortunate to have a tremendous career with NASA for over 26 years.I am pleased to address the issue of transition from the Space Shuttle to the new Ares/Orion launch system. It is an important issue facing us today as we approach a crossroads where the transition between space transportation systems will be critical in our ability to maintain skills and experience while training a new generation of space scientists, engineers, and processing workforce.But before I address the transition from the Space Shuttle to the new Ares launch transportation system, it is worth reviewing previous experience with transitions of this magnitude, particularly the transition from the Apollo program and Saturn V launch vehicle to the Space Shuttle transportation system. After the Apollo moon landings ended in 1972, several small transitions, or “soft landings” occurred. Significant workforce reductions occurred both within the NASA civil service workforce and private industry. Follow-on programs did not need the levels of workforce that were required during the buildup to support the moon landings of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. A leaner NASA and a leaner industry were the result.During this transitional phase, NASA developed and operated its first space station, Skylab. And after Skylab’s three missions were completed an international cooperative mission between the United States and Russia, Apollo/Soyuz, was conducted. These missions constituted “soft landings” where critical skills and experience were retained as workforce reductions and attrition occurred.Fast-forwarding 30 years to 2007, the lessons of the Apollo/Shuttle transition are applicable today as NASA transitions from Shuttle to Ares I/Orion. Actions taken have already resulted in several “soft landings” where critical skills and experience are being directly applied to new program development. Many of the technical, skill, processing, and cost challenges have been mitigated through the utilization of proven Shuttle derived capabilities for the foundation of the Ares I launch vehicle. Critical industry skill and experience are being retained in the development of the Ares I systems.Additionally, an Ares I test flight program is being developed that bridges the gap between the last Shuttle flight and the start of Ares I operational capability, utilizing the talents across industry and NASA’s field centers. These test flights provide an avenue of transition where critical skills and experience are captured and retained.And just as the Skylab space station provided a bridge between Apollo and Shuttle for the retention of critical skills, I believe that the operation of the International Space Station through at least the middle of the next decade is necessary to provide a similar bridge between the Space Shuttle and future lunar missions.But there is no doubt that the transition from the 25-plus year Space Shuttle program to the new Ares I transportation system will be a significant challenge. Resources must be allocated to allow for a safe and executable transition, providing for the safety of our astronauts as the Shuttle program comes to a close and enabling the execution of these “soft landings” as I have described. Increasing the gap between Shuttle and Ares I exacerbates the transition. The gap, in my opinion, should be minimized and resources allocated to ensure this occurs.As industry, small and large, across this country step up to the challenge, we have the opportunity to drive down cost and to realign contracts to be much more efficient. And although this transition period will be challenging, it also presents a gateway to new opportunity as the end state vision associated with Ares I begins to evolve. People will change badges; people will step up to the challenge of being retrained; and people will aggressively seek new positions of growth provided by an expanding vision.With a safer, more economical launch system come increased opportunities. Instead of servicing only one program, the Kennedy Space Center has the potential to be the spaceport of the future for a variety of missions--Ares I NASA missions to low earth orbit, potential Ares I commercial applications, and providing services and infrastructure for a growing commercial orbital transportation system (COTS) that NASA is facilitating. The evolution of the space industry is continuing and Ares I opens up potential new opportunities for industry to develop. The opportunity exists for the transition of workforce skills and experience at the KSC to support a broader KSC role.It is also evident that the KSC launch site is becoming an extension of the manufacturing centers where Ares I launch vehicle element refurbishment and assembly and Orion spacecraft assembly are major activities in addition to integrated vehicle processing and launch/recovery operations. The KSC workforce will have opportunities to transition from Shuttle contracts to Ares I contracts to support these Ares I/Orion assembly activities.As we continue to pursue the vision for space exploration and transition to a new space transportation system, a new generation of scientists and engineers will be inspired, as was my generation 30 years ago. The transition that I have addressed will certainly be a challenge, but it also represents significant opportunities for the future. With the necessary resources, I am confident that NASA and industry will rise to the challenge and safely guide us to the next great adventure.
Mr. Johnny WalkerDirecting Business RepresentativeIAM&AW District Lodge 166Testimony ofJohnny WalkerDirecting Business RepresentativeDistrict Lodge 166International Association of Machinists and Aerospace WorkersBefore the Space, Aeronautics, and Related Sciences SubcommitteeOf theSenate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee“Transitioning to a Next Generation Human Space Flight System”March 28, 2007Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this Subcommittee for the opportunity to testify before you today. My name is Johnny Walker and I serve as Directing Business Representative for District Lodge 166 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. As the largest union at the Kennedy Space Center, we represent over 2,500 hourly men and women who play a critical role in preparing, launching, and maintaining our nation’s only human launch vehicle, the Space Shuttle. I come before you today to give voice to the growing concerns of our members and the communities they live in regarding the extended gap between the end of the Space Shuttle program and the beginning of the new Ares/Orion manned vehicle systems.Our members have been involved with the space program at Cape Canaveral since 1955 and have participated in every human launch event. While contractors have come and gone, we have stayed, providing a knowledge base and skill continuity critical to the safety and success of our nation’s space program.IAM members function as launch operation technicians, mission schedulers, inspectors, ground support technicians, safety support specialists, test conductor operators, air traffic control specialists, and logistic specialists. Additionally, we are plumbers, pipe fitters, sheet metal workers, welders, industrial electricians, crane operators, as well as heavy equipment, crawler, and support services mechanics and operators. Other support occupations include power generator equipment operators, air conditioning mechanics, linemen, alarm technicians, asbestos abatement/insulators, and excavation permit inspectors. Many of these jobs require a journeyman’s license or other certification and are not easily replaceable.Last March NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, stated that he recalled “…the damage done to our nation’s space program by the loss of critical expertise in human space flight following the cessation of Apollo and then six years later the effort to recreate it during the shuttle era.” I too recall that time: the layoffs, the disruption in human lives, and the devastating impact on our communities. For some it meant losing their homes. For others it meant picking up and moving away in search of dependable work. For those of us who remained, moral suffered as our co-workers, friends, and neighbors left.When the shuttle program finally began to move forward, many of the skilled workers, both hourly and salaried, who possessed intimate knowledge of key operations, were gone. NASA contractors were then forced to recruit nation-wide and bring in new people unfamiliar with NASA systems. This was an expensive and time consuming process.I fear now that NASA will repeat the mistakes of the past. The cessation of the Titan program in 2005 resulted in the layoff of 250 highly skilled employees familiar with complex missile systems. With little hope of future employment at the Kennedy Space Center most left the Cape in search of new work—a possible harbinger of things to come in 2010 when the Shuttle program ends. If nothing changes, I believe that the potential impact from a gap in programs will be even worse than it was in the 1970s because today’s workers at the Cape have had more training and possess higher skill levels than those from a generation ago.NASA has indicated that the staffing levels for the Ares/Orion systems will be dramatically lower than are currently needed for the Space Shuttle program. Employment at the Kennedy Space Center for the Ares/Orion launch systems is projected to drop to approximately 9,500 from the present level of 15,000 employees. However, if the funding levels remain as currently projected, employment levels could be significantly lower. Given these dire scenarios, NASA must answer some critical questions:· What will NASA do for the displaced workers? Will they be offered some form of transition assistance? What type of severance package will they be offered? How long will health care benefits be covered?· What is the plan for the workforce that remains? What will be the schedule for the new work that will be needed for the new Ares/Orion manned vehicle systems? What will be the skill mix for that new work? What new training will be required? How will NASA communicate these changes?· Perhaps most importantly, what is being done to bring in new work to prevent layoffs and preserve the skill base at the Kennedy Space Center? For example, why not utilize the existing personnel and facilities for the manufacture and assembly of the Ares/Orion launch vehicles?The GAO, in a May 2005 report on workforce issues related to the retirement of the Space Shuttle, stated that NASA should follow what it calls a “human capital management approach” in planning the transition to the Ares/Orion systems. While we concur with the report’s focus on workforce issues, we must strongly insist that this planning process include not only senior NASA and contractor management, but also the participation of frontline hourly and salaried workers and their union representatives. Working together we have a much greater chance of achieving a beneficial transition for workers, our communities, the contractors, and NASA. Such a successful transition will be key to accomplishing NASA’s critical mission.As China doubles its investment in space exploration, deploys satellite destroying weaponry, and makes plans for a manned lunar expedition, we cannot, as a nation, pretend that we can get by on the cheap with a nickel and dime space effort. It is both a matter of our national defense and global technological leadership that we provide the necessary funds for a vital and productive space program. To that end, we must first begin by fully funding the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 and by making up the funding gap that resulted from the continuing resolution for fiscal year 2007. It is my understanding that this will require approximately $1.7 billion, slightly less than what we are spending per week in Iraq.From the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2010 until the launch of the first manned Orion vehicle, currently projected to be in 2015, the United States will be without a human launch vehicle. For the nation that first put a man on the moon to be at the mercy and whims of foreign nations for its human space travel needs is simply unacceptable. We must do better and find the necessary funds to move up the Orion launch date. This will greatly enhance our ability to stabilize the workforce and maintain the critical skill base at the Kennedy Space Center.Mr. Chairman, I know that I speak for all of the dedicated men and women at the Cape, both hourly and salaried, in thanking you, the Ranking Member, and the members of this Subcommittee from both sides of the aisle for your tireless efforts to preserve the preeminence of our nation’s space program.I thank you for this opportunity to testify today and look forward to your questions.
Mr. John KarasVice President, Space ExplorationLockheed MartinTestimony ofMr. John Karas, Vice President and General Manager, Human Spaceflight, Lockheed Martin Space Systems CompanyBefore the Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics and Related SciencesCommittee on Commerce, Science and TransportationU.S. SenateGood afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Sen. Hutchison and distinguished Committee Members.I am honored to appear before you today to discuss a critical process of transition that lies before us in the next several years. We should all work together to understand the impact that such a transition will have on key NASA Centers, their employees, their contractors and their communities. Our collective skill in negotiating that transition will determine whether or not America retains its hard-earned mantle of leadership in space science and exploration.There is a concern that budget pressures may threaten our ability to execute a smooth and timely transition from Space Shuttle operations to a fully developed system of new launch and exploration vehicles. If key schedule milestones are to be met, it is important that all of us in industry and in the government reach agreement on a number of issues. Many of these issues are a product of the tension between long-term budget uncertainties and program technical, schedule, and cost performance.Working closely together, NASA and the Lockheed Martin Orion team have sought to identify the key ingredients of a successful program and to ensure that they remain part of the recipe. We have imposed rigorous cost controls in order to keep the overall program within the budget constraints set by Congress.While there are differences of opinion about some elements of the way forward, there is substantial agreement about the priorities: safe and successful flyout of the Shuttle; and safe, successful, smooth, and affordable transition from Shuttle to the next-generation human spaceflight system. Although Lockheed Martin is now responsible for development of Orion, we also have a vested interest in the successful flyout of the Shuttle. Not only are we a parent company of United Space Alliance, the company responsible for Shuttle operations, but we also build the External Tank, providing support to the Shuttle program in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. We’re as committed at the front end as we are at the back end.As we contemplate next steps, the NASA/industry team must accept an important reality: there WILL be an uncomfortable gap between the last Shuttle flight and the first Orion flight. The march of time and the pressure of budget realities virtually guarantee it. Our job is to minimize the gap, develop work-around strategies and execute our development plan as flawlessly as possible.Some of the work will have to be done serially, some of it will overlap, and some of it will be done in parallel. An example of parallel tasks is the need to continue flying the Shuttle safely while we develop its replacement. In order to do so successfully, we must continue to inspire, motivate and reward the Shuttle workforce while at the same time identifying, recruiting and retaining the new skills and workers that Orion will require.Similarly, NASA and its prime contractors must provide a programmatic and technical roadmap to key suppliers, one that encourages them to invest in future capabilities while continuing to produce defect-free support for existing systems.The workforce and the supplier base are both particularly vulnerable to gaps in development, production and operations schedules. Once the pipeline of projects begins to run dry, individuals and businesses begin to head for the exits. As tribal knowledge fades and spare parts dwindle, the risks to existing programs mount and the possibility of new ones diminishes.Lockheed Martin has recent experience with this kind of dilemma. We have served as the prime contractor on numerous spacecraft development and operations programs that have completed their life cycle over the past 50 years, repeatedly facing the challenges of transitioning skilled workforce and facilities across programs. During the transitional phases of the Titan and Atlas space booster programs, we gained valuable insight into the most productive ways to achieve mission success while making changes in workforce, facilities and processes.In 1993, Martin Marietta Corporation bought General Dynamics Space Systems Division, and in the mid-90’s, moved the Atlas operations from San Diego to Denver. This involved the relocation of people and tooling, the construction of facilities and the seamless handoff of work-in-progress between two sets of workers hundreds of miles apart.During this transition and workforce relocation, our launch operations team was able to conduct 12 successful Atlas missions. Furthermore, all of the Atlas hardware built during the transition passed inspection and flew successfully on subsequent missions. At the same time, we developed new Atlas variants, incorporating a planned set of improvements, and significantly reduced operations costs. This evolutionary process inspired the Atlas workforce to remain with the program through the challenges of relocation and uncertainty. NASA is off to a good start in much the same way, with the development of Orion, Ares I, Ares V, and the Earth Departure Stage.As the prospect of downsizing and skill mix adjustments looms in the closeout of Shuttle operations, lessons that we learned at the end of the Titan program are also applicable. In its final years of operation, Titan IV was called upon to launch some of this nation’s most important national security payloads. It was vitally important to maintain a dedicated, skilled workforce as we reached the last missions of the program. Through a combination of re-training and Mission Success incentives, we achieved 100% Mission Success through the end of the Titan IV program. Many of the highly-skilled employees that remained on the program to the end are now valued members of the Lockheed Martin Orion team.What are the keys to success? Good planning, obsessive attention to detail, and most importantly, good change managers to lead during this time of uncertainty.One element that both the Atlas transition and the Titan closeout had in common was the sense of continuity. The workforce in each case was given clear, honest information about the road ahead. They knew the role that they would play, the importance of the mission, the outlines of the plan, and the arrangements that would protect their jobs or provide for follow-on opportunities. No one had to fear the future.If the Shuttle-to-Constellation transition is to enjoy the same level of success, we will need to provide the NASA and contractor workforce with a similar sense of continuity. We will need to communicate our plans for them and for their workplaces. And we will need to take visible steps to mitigate transition-related impacts on job stability.While the NASA/industry team must develop and execute this transition plan, Congress plays an important role as well. Assured funding and consistent program authorization are key ingredients in providing continuity in program planning. To this end, we commend this Committee for your last Authorization Bill, and urge full support for your FY08 NASA Authorization.But it is unlikely that the pressures on Congress will abate anytime soon. Yet there are measures that can be taken to “smooth out the oscillations” as we engineers might say. For example, in bidding for the Orion program, the Lockheed Martin team focused on what we call the “Southern Crescent” approach. Since we knew that low cost would be a crucial element of a winning proposal, we sought to identify cost mitigators that would not jeopardize mission success. The location, condition and particular strengths of the NASA Centers became a key consideration in the proposed siting of Orion work. We fashioned a proposal that leveraged the pre-existing skilled workforce and facilities, the willingness of local communities to invest in the retention of key enterprises, and the logistical advantages conferred by geography. The presence of unique facilities, experienced workers and supportive communities at each NASA Center provided a “win-win” solution.While our teammate, Orbital is working closely with Langley Research Center on the Launch Abort System and we are working with Glenn Research Center on the Orion Service Module, we and our teammates have located our crew capsule development activities near the southern NASA Centers. This strategy enables us to leverage the invaluable, recent human space flight experience, both within NASA and among the many NASA suppliers in the communities. Lockheed Martin’s Orion Project Office and our design and development team are located near JSC in Texas. We are building the Orion structure at the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. Orion cable harnesses and ground support equipment are being developed and built at Stennis in Mississippi. And Orion final assembly, test, and launch operations will all take place at KSC in Florida. As part of this continuing strategy, we are already working as a subcontractor on the Commercial Orbital Transportation System at Michoud and on the Ares I-1 Avionics Integration contract at Marshall Space Flight Center. Lockheed Martin and our Orion teammates Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell and United Space Alliance, are busy with important roles on Shuttle at JSC and KSC. These contracts provide us with unique insight into the dimensions of the workforce transition challenge and facilitate a smoother transition for our second-tier suppliers. We are already identifying opportunities for crossover employment and retraining that can be an element of our workforce utilization strategy.As we face this transition challenge, care must be taken to keep the promise of these Centers and not squander the institutional and individual competence that has been built up over the years. It is important to ensure clear, open communication with the workforce and the community. The NASA workforce and their community supporters are mature and realistic. If dealt with in a forthright fashion, they will want to stay on the team and be a part of NASA’s future. As we strive to meet strict cost standards, it only makes sense to avail ourselves of existing skills, experienced workers and already-capitalized facilities. To further enable a smooth transition, we must ensure that NASA’s premier facilities are maintained and that obsolete facilities are retired. We encourage expanding NASA’s Enhanced Use Lease authority to guarantee the most efficient use of NASA’s human space flight facilities.To assure successful transition, there must be more than just good intentions. Reliable closeout schedules, retraining opportunities and “bridging” work on other projects are ways in which to preserve workforce loyalty and performance. The Orion team and the NASA Centers are committed to using best practices in managing the human spaceflight transition.Some of these best practices are proven human resources techniques: skills assessment and inventory, career and vocational counseling, job tracking and database management, skills refreshment and retention, incentive programs, community outreach and local economic development partnerships.Even with the most effective transition strategies, there will be some inevitable attrition of the workforce. The demographics ensure that we are on the threshold of a significant surge in retirements. Two imperatives arise from this fact: one, knowledge capture and retention must be accomplished proactively through mentoring programs, exit interviews and archiving; second, recruitment must be synchronized and integrated with attrition projections to ensure continuity and knowledge transfer. Performance metrics must be carefully monitored to anticipate and mitigate performance variances in this critical transition period.Skill mix is one of the most delicate issues that industry must confront. Many find it hard to understand that a contractor could be laying some people off while hiring others at the same time. This process, essential for the health and vitality of the industrial base, can have harsh human consequences. To some extent, retraining and rotational assignments can reduce the need for skill-mix job actions. But the transition from Shuttle to Orion, and the transition from Orion development to Orion operations, will necessarily entail some skill mix adjustments.We expect to deal with this challenge, in part, through effective community relations. We at Lockheed Martin and our industry teammates have established highly effective relationships with universities, four-year and community colleges, job counselors and state and local government officials. Working with local economic development organizations, we have forged partnerships with the University of Houston, the University of Texas/El Paso, the University of Central Florida, Brevard Community College and a host of other institutions. In the past, workers found themselves adrift without a lifeline when layoffs occurred. Today, with the help of enlightened managers, these community partnerships can provide a more transitional process, combining severance packages, retraining funds, resume preparation and job counseling that often return workers back to the workforce with little or no disruption. While it is in our interest to retain and retrain proven workers, we must also streamline our operations and find new, more efficient ways to accomplish our mission.Change presents both risk and opportunity. I have spoken of the risks of an ill-conceived transition process for human spaceflight. But the opportunities are well worth remembering. We must encourage a new generation to take up the exciting challenge of space exploration. Powered by new technology, imagination, and Jolt Cola, the next space adventurers will need our help to gain a foothold in the future. At this point, we are finding that recent engineering graduates are clamoring to work on the Orion program. This is a refreshing change, since a decade ago, graduates were leaving the space industry in favor of the exciting opportunities offered by the dot-coms. Congress can maintain this momentum by assuring a sustained investment in people, facilities and technology.America’s most insightful philosopher, Yogi Berra, is reputed to have said “Making predictions is difficult, especially about the future.” While I can’t predict exactly how the vision for space exploration will turn out, let me say that I am confident in the feasibility of our plan, the competence of our workforce, the maturity of our technology and goodness of our objective. Given the necessary resources, a stable budget, and the continued support of the Congress, I have no doubt of our ultimate success.Thank you for the opportunity to provide my statement on this important topic. Lockheed Martin appreciates the Committee’s interest in maintaining United States leadership in space exploration. We look forward to continuing to work closely with you on these important issues and I look forward to your questions.
Mr. Michael McCulleyChief Executive OfficerUnited Space AllianceSummary of Testimony ofMichael J. McCulleyPresident and CEOUnited Space AllianceBefore theSubcommittee on Space, Aeronautics and Related SciencesCommittee on Commerce, Science and TransportationU.S. SenateMarch 28, 2007
Mike McCulley, president and chief executive officer of United Space Alliance (USA), addressed the Subcommittee on current Space Shuttle transition planning operations and the planned retirement of the Shuttle fleet.
Mr. McCulley, a former NASA Astronaut, spoke on behalf of the 10,400 men and women of United Space Alliance, located primarily in Texas, Florida, and Alabama. The company is the leading human space flight space operations company in the world with experience in all aspects of ground processing, mission operations and planning, major system integration, and in-flight operations of multipurpose space systems.
Mr. McCulley stated that there is a four-to-five-year gap between the final Space Shuttle flight in September 2010 and the first planned crewed launch of Ares I, in 2014 or 2015. During “the gap,” the United States will be dependent on Russia, ESA, Japan and COTS developmental vehicles for human and logistics transportation to the International Space Station. He stated that this gap will jeopardize U.S. space leadership and that the gap must be shortened as much as possible. He suggested neither the FY 2007 nor FY 2008 budgets are adequate to achieve the policy goals established in the Vision for Space Exploration.
McCulley told the subcommittee that USA is focused on retaining the skills of its employees and they have started company-wide initiatives that involve workforce training and development of skills for early Constellation work.
He also stated that the stockpiles of Shuttle-unique hardware are reaching sufficient levels to support the remaining missions so, therefore, contracts are not being renewed and the production and manufacturing of many “Shuttle-only” elements are being terminated. These capabilities, he said, once shut down, are costly, or impossible, to restore. He urged that NASA must have a plan in place soon, as well as the funds to implement it, if the nation is to retain skills and apply years of experience to the new missions of exploration.
Mr. Allen LiDirector, Acquisition and Sourcing ManagementU.S. Government Accountability Office