NASA Dumps iLIDS Docking System

Obviously, this is a disappointing outcome. But while iLIDS may not have been the right solution for the ISS Program, the technology that has been developed for this program remains very impressive and the work that everyone has done to bring it this far has been outstanding.

NASA Internal Memo:

From:
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 6:42 PM
To:
Cc:
Subject: iLIDS Status

As I'm sure everyone has heard by now, the ISS Program has elected to pursue the Boeing narrow ring design, SIMAC, for docking and will be retiring the iLIDS design. EA is currently working with OG to determine exactly what the design retirement and archiving process will look like. But at minimum, the program has made clear that they want us to:

. Complete assembly of the ASE and EDU
. Perform some level of testing on both (which almost certainly includes 6DOF testing at a minimum)
. Complete the design and fabrication of GSE/TSE associated with those tests
. Complete the LSEC and LCIE
. Complete the cleanup and final release of all flight drawings, mechanical and electrical

The timeframe for all this is still being negotiated, but in the short term we will all basically be doing the same tasks that we have been doing. The primary difference is that instead of having Boeing as the end-user, NASA will be the end-user and it will be released to file. In many ways, this should make it easier to close out some items. So what this does NOT mean is an immediate shutdown of the project and a sudden blizzard of pink slips. Just the tasks listed above would be enough to keep everyone fully occupied for quite some time, and as the shutdown plan is finalized there may be more work added. We still have full funding through the holidays, and the testing and acceptance data listed above will require significant portions of the team to continue beyond that. So I would request that everyone please be patient while we work out these details with the customer. Once we know more about those details, we intend to have an all hands meeting with everyone to share those with you and answer any questions that folks have. In the meantime, please continue working on all of your current priorities and assume that everything we're doing now will still be delivered in the end.

Obviously, this is a disappointing outcome. But while iLIDS may not have been the right solution for the ISS Program, the technology that has been developed for this program remains very impressive and the work that everyone has done to bring it this far has been outstanding. While there are many docking system concepts out there, this is the only US system which has actually put hardware together and shown that it functions. The fact that this is a controlled shutdown instead of an immediate stop work shows that NASA sees the value in this technology and wants to keep it available for consideration on future missions. This technology, whether as iLIDS or as a future piece of hardware, still has a great deal of potential, and all of you should be quite proud of that fact.

Again, once the transition plan has been finalized, our intent is to get everyone together, share those details with you, and answer any questions you might have. If you have questions before then, please let me know and I will do my best to answer them.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.