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Mr. PARKS. I believe the criticism at that time was the use of relatively small outfits to do fabrication work that in the opinion of some of the committee members were not necessarily the best qualified to do this type work.
One of the things we have in fact done for the block III is to place these efforts with the very competent, large outfits that do have the capability of design, in some cases, and of the fabrication area. You will notice all of these outfits are large and highly qualified and have good reputations within the whole industry.
Dr. PICKERING. In other words, I think what Mr. Parks is saying is that between the earlier Rangers and Ranger block III, there was a definite change in our policies in this regard.
Mr. KARTH. Doctor, what percentage, dollarwise, of the Ranger program involves JPL-designed subsystems? I am not talking about manufacturing, but about design. What percentage of the total dollar expenditures on Ranger were spent on in-house design as opposed to outside contractor design?
Mr. SCHURMEIER. If you take it on a dollar basis, the dollars spent for the equipment, it is probably 60 to 70 percent of the spacecraft that is JPL design.
Mr. KARTH. Thank you.
Dr. PICKERING. Management relationships between JPL and RCA. When the Ranger follow-on flights-Ranger VI through Ranger 9 were authorized, with a primary mission of obtaining high resolution TV pictures of the moon, technical evaluations of the spaceborne television capabilities of industry as they existed in the United States at that time were made. These evaluations were based on the JPL staff engineers' intimate knowledge of the companies engaged in this field, through recent contractual actions and through formal presentations by the interested companies. The companies considered were: Fairchild Camera & Instrument Corp.
General Precision Equipment Corp.
Hallamore Electronics Divisions of Siegler Corp.
RCA Astro Electronics Division.
It was necessary that the contractor selected for this development be fully capable of fulfilling the subsystem management requirements of the job, including designing, developing, and testing the flight hardware, and providing the required integration and field support for the total subsystem, since the Laboratory's staff members qualified in this field were fully occupied in the development of the TV systems for Rangers III, IV, and V and the stereo TV camera system for Sur
The RCA Astro Electronics Division was selected as the best qualified contractor for this subsystem, having demonstrated recent success in meeting the schedule and the engineering requirements of the Tiros weather satellite and other Department of Defense television systems. This experience put RCA in a position to provide hardware according to proven designs, thus eliminating much of the costly development work anticipated by other organizations and to the very tight schedule desired in order to provide data in support of the manned lunar effort in a timely fashion. With NASA concurrence, a letter contract was awarded to RCA.
Mr. KARTH. Dr. Pickering, while six companies were solicited, RCA was selected sole source, was it not?
Dr. PICKERING. Yes, sir.
Mr. KARTH. I see again what appears to me to be a very important factor, this desire for a very tight schedule. This has come up so often I am wondering whether or not we probably didn't forgo some reliability so as to meet a schedule.
Dr. PICKERING. Yes, sir; we did. If we had postponed the Ranger program for 2 or 3 years, we could probably have had a more reliable
Mr. KARTH. Are you really talking about that length of time, Doctor?
Dr. PICKERING. Well, you said schedule considerations, and certainly I am taking an extreme situation if I say 2 or 3 years; but, on the other hand, I don't know how I can decide between a few months and a few years.
Mr. KARTH. But you see we are talking about, in your own words, a very tight schedule as opposed to a tight schedule, a relatively tight schedule, or loose schedule, or whatever other word you would have chosen. This very tight schedule, because it has been mentioned on quite a number of occasions throughout this hearing, seems to leave room for valid criticism that we were adhering to a schedule at the expense of reliability.
Dr. PICKERING. Mr. Schurmeier will comment.
Mr. SCHURMEIER. What is referred to here is the initial inception of the project. We-part way down through the project, we continually evaluate the schedule tradeoff versus reliability-did in fact make an incremental slip in the schedule for this first TV shot. As I think Mr. Nicks commented in his testimony on Monday, the initial objective was to make the initial TV experiment interchangeable with the old Ranger V payload.
A few months down the program with the TV, we felt that it was going to be too tight a schedule and too much cutting into the reliability, and therefore we ruled that possibility out and delayed the schedule of the first TV shot. This is what is referred to here as the initial basis for the program.
Mr. KARTH. This was a sole-source contract, though.
Dr. PICKERING. Yes, sir.
Mr. KARTH. Rather than being let on RFP so you could have been able to evaluate the different designs and concepts that would have been submitted under that procedure. Isn't that correct?
Dr. PICKERING. Yes, sir, this was sole source.
Mr. KARTH. If you had it to do over, would you do it in the same way?
Ďr. PICKERING. I am not sure how to answer that, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. PARKS. The biggest choice in any contractor selection, of course, is their experience in related techniques, which will show up in the quality of their proposal, but also in the evaluation of their capability to carry out the proposal.
RCA did at that time and still does have perhaps the greatest experience directly related to space TV of any corporation, so it would be difficult to say that you would have obtained a different answer.
Dr. PICKERING. In negotiating this contract, full cognizance was taken of this competence and a great deal of reliance placed in this contractor's ability to design and develop the total subsystem and its associated ground support equipment. Included in this contract was the additional responsibility for the television ground data handling system and its integration with the DSIF.
At the very outset of the contract, JPL assigned specific personnel to the technical and contractual management of the RCA contract and established a liaison engineer and a quality control engineer in residence at the RCA plant. Since that time, there have been regular quarterly meetings to review the technical and managerial status of the project. These meetings have been attended by the top management of RCA, JPL and the NASA Lunar and Planetary Project Office. Technical and contractual liaison visits to both the RCA plant and JPL have been made regularly by cognizant personnel for both organizations. Extensive formal reporting exists in the form of bimonthly technical progress reports and detailed monthly management and cost status reports.
Mr. KARTH. Doctor, at the outset, when the decision was made to let this contract sole source to RCA, did JPL conduct a detailed review of the RCA design and specifically approve it?
Dr. PICKERING. This was before the design existed.
Mr. SCHURMEIER. It depends on the definition of the word "detail." We did conduct design reviews with them and did conduct design reviews of the concept, the gross interfaces and the gross design of the TV. I can say we did not go down to a detailed design review of each individual component in each circuit.
Mr. KARTH. Did NASA participate in this nondetailed design review?
Mr. SCHURMEIER. NASA participated in some of these design reviews with us both at RCA and JPL.
Mr. KARTH. After you had made this design review and accepted it, did NASA also accept it?
Mr. SCHURMEIER. I would say the answer is yes. In other words, they participated with us in the reviews, and we discussed it with them. We said, "We reviewed the TV and think it is satisfactory," and reviewed the decision with them.
Dr. PICKERING. Mr. Chairman, I would like to state that although this contract with RCA was for the design and fabrication and testing of the complete TV subsystem, I regard the Laboratory as having very clearly the responsibility for the performance of this systemand the Laboratory I am saying, rather than NASA Headquarters. When NASA Headquarters assigned to us the program responsibility, it is our responsibility to see that the flight hardware is good hard
Mr. KARTH. Dr. Pickering, again it appears to me that you considered the schedule so important as to forgo a very important function; that is, a detailed review of the experiment which is going to be the sole experiment on the Rangers for which it is intended. It would seem to me, as a nontechnical person, that this is one area where a detailed review of design and specific approval of the detailed design would have been in order.
Dr. PICKERING. One could always wish we had a better design review than we had.
Mr. KARTH. It appears that the only reason you probably didn't make a detailed design review was so that you could more adequately meet a schedule.
Mr. SCHURMEIER. I don't think that conclusion is
Mr. KARTH. Is quite right?
Mr. SCHURMEIER. Is quite right.
Also the factor of the total re
sources available to carry out the project is a factor.
As stated, I think a little bit earlier, you said you should not have a one-for-one duplication for each technical job. We tried to establish a level of review we thought was consistent with the requirements. Mr. KARTH. Except that you don't really know what you want, and you have the responsibility of making it work. It is very important that it does work, which would seem to be a different situation.
Dr. PICKERING. This also comes back to the question of testing, and of course we were very concerned about the test program as a means of evaluating how well the RCA equipment was meeting our specifications and requirements, and this indeed we tried to do very thoroughly. I will now go on to the Northrop management relationship. Consideration had been given since April 1962 to the obtaining of more industrial support for the follow-on Ranger flights, and a decision was reached in January 1963 that for those Ranger flights subsequent to round 9, the spacecraft fabrication and prelaunch test and checkout would be contracted to an industrial organization. On March 6, 1963, the Northrop Corp. was selected by NASA as the spacecraft contractor. The Northrop Space Laboratories, a division of Northrop, was assigned first to evaluate the total Ranger spacecraft design and to make recommendations as to possible improvements in the system performance and reliability for incorporation in the block V spacecraft. They were then to implement the block V spacecraft system design as approved by JPL and to provide the necessary ground support equipment. Since block V was a continuation of the blocks III and IV projects being conducted by JPL, contractor participation in the blocks III and IV projects was required. The contractor was to contribute actively in all technical areas on these projects, gain experience with the Ranger spaceraft, and assume increasing responsibility for the Ranger spacecraft.
Mr. KARTH. Was this another sole-source contract?
Dr. PICKERING. Yes, sir.
Mr. KARTH. Could you tell the subcommittee why NASA decided that block IV and block V Ranger spacecraft should be done by an industrial contractor?
Dr. PICKERING. Block V this was, rather than block IV. Block IV was the transition.
NASA felt, and JPL agreed with them, that for a continuing Ranger effort it would be appropriate to bring in an industrial contractor to provide the repetitive fabrication necessary for these continuing shots.
Mr. KARTH. I might say I agree with both of you. It occurs to me that, insofar as the total number of Rangers that were originally conceived, perhaps we did err in judgment as to the number that should be produced outside of industry.
Dr. PICKERING. If you will remember that the Ranger program grew out of a five-vehicle program, then became a nine, and then grew and grew.
Mr. KARTH. This is not abnormal.
Dr. PICKERING. No, but the question is, When is the transition point?
Mr. KARTH. I understand your problem.
Dr. PICKERING. The activities required of the contractor were defined in three major tasks, each task being related to a specific block of Ranger spacecraft. The tasks were:
(1) Block III support: This task specified that the contractor provide support in areas such as documentation, quality assurance, design evaluation, and life testing, system and subsystem integration, system testing of flight spacecraft, launch preparation and operations, and space flight operations.
The contractor provided support by the assignment of personnel to work with and under JPL personnel. A peak of about 135 contractor personnel were assigned to support JPL on this task.
These contractor personnel have made significant contributions to the project efforts on block III. This task has been continued and it is planned that the contractor's personnel will continue the support effort through the last block III flight.
Mr. KARTH. Doctor, could you tell me whether or not Northrop made any specific recommendations after they were brought aboard? Dr. PICKERING. In the block III area?
Mr. KARTH. Yes.
Mr. SCHURMEIER. I attempted to answer that question the other day. They participated, as I said, as individuals. As individuals they did make suggestions and comments on the design and how to improve the design. As an industrial contractor, and as a complete design proposal for improvements for the block III, they did not, because that was not part of their task.
Mr. KARTH. They were brought aboard more for the reason of becoming familiar with the Ranger program, the Ranger spacecraft, and the component parts and subsystems, so that they could more properly carry on with block V?
Mr. SCHURMEIER. Right.
Dr. PICKERING. And in addition to provide additional help in the Ranger III program.
Mr. KARTH. Why were they selected sole source? I though perhaps a reason for their sole-source selection might be because they had considerable capability in this area and were probably the best contractor. I am not sure now my assumption was accurate.
Mr. SCHURMEIER. I think your assumption is correct. I was trying to answer a little bit of a different question. They had experience in the C.C. & S. and attitude control systems, and had considerable knowledge and were working in very important and key aspects of the spacecraft at that time. This was one of the strong considerations in their selection.