NASA’s Artemis Launch Gives Boeing Chance to Restore Its Space Credibility
Kanebridge News
Share Button

NASA’s Artemis Launch Gives Boeing Chance to Restore Its Space Credibility

By By Andrew Tangel and Micah Maidenberg
Mon, Aug 29, 2022 9:30amGrey Clock 4 min
Aerospace company has long worked on NASA missions, but latest rocket has faced cost overruns and delays in recent years

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s scheduled test launch Monday of a new mega-rocket will give Boeing Co. another chance to prove it can pull off big national projects following past missteps.

Boeing is the biggest contractor for the agency’s Space Launch System, a 38-storey-tall rocket that is supposed to launch the Orion spacecraft without crew toward the moon—and in 2025 blast U.S. astronauts back there as part of NASA’s Artemis missions to explore space.

“We’re providing both the brains and muscle,” Boeing says on its website, “to make the next generation of human spaceflight possible.”

 

Boeing has a long history developing NASA vehicles and handling missions for the agency. The company helped deliver astronauts to the moon in the 1960s, and worked on Space Shuttle operations before that program ended more than a decade ago. It also provides support for the International Space Station for NASA.

Boeing’s space business has struggled more recently, including technical and management problems with the SLS. Stumbles with its separate Starliner spacecraft repeatedly delayed a flight for NASA, and that ship has lagged behind a competing vehicle from Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

A successful SLS launch would help Boeing restore its reputation as it competes for government contracts and engineering talent with startups.

“The SLS is just another opportunity for us to show how well Boeing can do space,” said John Shannon, a Boeing vice president who oversees the SLS program for the company. “This vehicle can do something that no other vehicle can do, and we haven’t had a rocket like this in 50 years.”

Mr. Shannon added the company is confident that two of the big parts of the mission that Boeing engineers worked on—the main stage of the rocket used during liftoff, and a propulsion system designed to give Orion a big push in space toward lunar orbit—will function as planned.

The test launch of SLS and Orion without crew was supposed to happen four years ago, but Boeing and other contractors faced technical slip-ups and challenges the NASA inspector general has cited as among the sources of delays and cost overruns.

The belated test launch comes after problems Boeing has faced elsewhere in its commercial, military and space segments.

Three years ago, Boeing botched a test launch of its Starliner space capsule, sending it into the wrong orbit and failing to dock with the International Space Station. Subsequent technical problems delayed a do-over until a successful Starliner test launch earlier this year. The company has booked $767 million in charges related to that program over the past three years.

“We need Boeing to get this right,” said Scott Pace, a former NASA official who is director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. “There’s a long history in recent years of Boeing’s technical problems, which they’re trying to fix—I sure hope they do, because it’s a national asset and it needs to work.”

Any major problems with this initial Space Launch System test launch could set back NASA’s planned Artemis missions to the moon. Two years from now, astronauts are scheduled to be on Orion as another SLS rocket launches it into space. And as soon as 2025, NASA wants SLS to propel astronauts to lunar orbit, where they would get on a SpaceX lander to travel to the lunar surface.

The missions could lay the groundwork for a possible future lunar base and an eventual operation to Mars, according to plans NASA has laid out under Artemis.

The overall project also involves aerospace companies including Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. Those contractors also have at times faced technical issues and delays flagged by the space agency’s inspector general. Lockheed Martin years ago dealt with challenges related to flight software and valves used for Orion, while Northrop Grumman, responsible for booster rockets on SLS, did so with insulation and avionics, according to reports from NASA’s inspector general.

Building and testing a new generation of exploration spacecraft that meet NASA’s stringent requirements has been challenging, with supply chains posing difficulties in recent years, said Mike Hawes, a vice president and program manager for Orion at Lockheed. Wendy Williams, vice president for propulsion systems at Northrop Grumman, said the company has incorporated lessons from building boosters for the first Artemis flight into the second, reducing timelines and costs.

The SLS program took shape amid political wrangling between the Obama White House and Congress in 2010. The project adapted technology from NASA’s now-ended Space Shuttle program to develop the world’s most powerful rocket capable of propelling humans and big spacecraft far into space. Some critics dubbed it the “rocket to nowhere” or the “Senate Launch System.”

Congress initially sought to launch SLS in 2016, but NASA early on saw the first mission happening in 2018. NASA Inspector General Paul Martin has estimated each of the first four Artemis missions will cost $4.1 billion, a figure he said is unsustainable.

Mr. Martin’s office had flagged Boeing miscalculations related to the scope of the project, welding problems and other troubles. “There was poor planning and poor execution,” he said in congressional testimony earlier this year.

Mr. Shannon, the Boeing manager for SLS, has said the company faced difficulties with the infrastructure at a Louisiana facility where NASA wanted the company to build the rocket. He said the company underestimated how long it would take to get its suppliers to provide needed parts.

“The aerospace supply chain for human spaceflight had really atrophied,” he said, citing the end of NASA’s Space Shuttle program years earlier for that. “We had to go in and really reinvigorate that supply chain.”

As of a year ago, Boeing and one of its joint ventures were awarded contracts worth about $12 billion over more than a dozen years for SLS work, according to a NASA inspector general report from November. Those deals represented 59% of the total contract value for the rocket program. Unlike with other government contracts, Boeing hasn’t booked any charges for SLS because many of its agreements with NASA are so-called cost-plus contracts, meaning taxpayers foot the bill for cost increases.

Mr. Shannon said the SLS program is profitable for Boeing but added: “We feel like we have a responsibility to provide good value to the taxpayer.”

As part of an attempt to reduce future SLS costs, NASA is planning to restructure the program’s finances. While the space agency offered few details, a NASA spokeswoman said the plan involved “creating a more affordable and sustainable exploration framework” in the future by “shifting more responsibility to industry.”

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said recently he didn’t want to expose the company to significant financial risk with SLS. He told the trade publication Aviation Week: “I want to prove it all out to be ready, but I’m not going to do silly things, like lose money for 10 years.”



MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Lifestyle
Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?
By Rachel Feintzeig 22/07/2024
Lifestyle
PROPERTY OF THE WEEK: 5 Hume Avenue, Wentworth Falls
By Kanebridge News 19/07/2024
Lifestyle
Blackstone’s Private-Equity Returns Trail the S&P 500
By Andrew Bary 19/07/2024
Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?

Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

By Rachel Feintzeig
Mon, Jul 22, 2024 4 min

Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Property
A Window Has Cracked Open For Buyers Looking For Homes Along the French Riviera
By KATE TALERICO 07/07/2024
Money
Taking on Fast Fashion With Leather Bags Made From Luxury Brand Scraps
By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore 29/06/2024
Property
The faster pathway to building wealth is no longer how much you earn, investors believe
By Bronwyn Allen 11/07/2024
0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop