The Ares-1 booster program recently completed Preliminary Design Review, or PDR. An internal communications log obtained by NASAWatch, though, shows this hardly went smoothly. Granted, every large program will produce contrary opinions - you will never get 100% of your people on board saying you made the right decisions. But the stuff on this log (the leak of which understandably infuriated NASA), is incredible.
Among the claims made are that NASA officials and engineers were still debating requirements at a design review, that element design reviews (called RIDs) were not complete, making it impossible to make a fully informed decision on how the complete system would perform, and that very important things like the oscillation damping issue were left out of the review. One participant wrote, "Organizing the review teams by WBS (work Breakdown Structure) prevented any team from obtaining a system level overview of what was going on. The result was a completely stovepiped review."
Then there is this item, which may be unfounded but which is astonishing to see in an official exchange of views: "I don't care who at NASA the RID coordinator is/was sleeping with personal abuse of team members is wrong!" and "Nothing was done (about the problem of the RIDs) due to the sexual relationship between the RID coordinator and a Sr. NASA manager."
COMMENT: All I can add to this is, "God help us all."
ALL POSTS REPRESENT SOLELY THE PERSONAL OPINION OF THE AUTHOR AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN.