[ExI] Should the US Have a Military Presence in Space?

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Mon Jun 25 15:42:56 UTC 2018

My theory on what this is really about:  

When I was working for one of the aerospace majors, I was a subsystem tech lead.  When a subsystem was ready and all the tests were done and passed, we would have a meeting called a buy-off, where we (the tech leads) would present the data to the customer and have him go over the paperwork, see that you had done all the tests and gotten all the numbers you need, inside the tolerance window.  My area was tech performance only (so we didn't talk money there, only performance of the subsystem (after I was finished, the program manager would take over (I could leave if I wished (I wished.))

In my buy-off there were usually about 6 yo 8 guys: my program manager, the company VP, I could bring in one of my tech team if I needed him (I didn't) and usually about 3 to 5 customer types: my tech lead counterpart, my program manager's counterpart, sometimes a scribe if necessary, a quality assurance guy, sometimes the customer's big boss would show, but that was it.  We would have a small meeting, my part would take about hour (or less if the subsystem was really a shining star in test) then the papers would be signed, hands would be shook and see ya again in 10 to 20 months, no worries.

In 2009 everything changed.  I heard we were to meet in this other 100 seat conference room, so just put the data in PowerPoint and don't worry about paper copies of everything (?) just the PowerPoint.  Before we would do everything on a tabletop on paper, but now we were to project it (?) and talk (?) to the customer.

I get down there and there are about 70 people in the room.  Huh?  Who are all these people?  Why do we need 70 people in the room to do a routine buy-off?

But my job isn't to ask questions, it's to answer them.  So I did.  That subsystem was our best ever, the numbers would make any father proud.  So the buy-off was great fun, and they bought the system, but I still didn't know who all those people were and why they were.

This sudden change created an unexpected heartburn for several of the other tech leads: they weren't accustomed to public speaking.  I didn't have any problem with it, but some of the others did.  They would get tongue-tied, even the smartest ones.  Heh.

I noticed something about the crowd later at the after-event dinner: they seemed young (many in their 20s and 30s) and the way they dressed and carried themselves.  After watching all this, it occurred to me that the crowd I had addressed were probably military ossifers.  I have been around that type enough to notice they treat each other with respect, they treat everyone they meet with a certain formality and decorum, they carry themselves a certain way.  Tattoos and piercings will not be seen.  Edgy tee-shirts, even at a picnic, will not be seen there.  Go to any event where military ossifers hang out, you will immediately see what I am talking about.

My conclusion: about in 2009, the military decided it wanted to have its own people doing a lot of what the aerospace biggies had been doing for decades.  And why not have the military do it?  Why not have the military people building all its own stuff?  Why do we need aerospace companies doing that?


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