US: Failure to Launch: In Death of Spy Satellite Program, Lofty Plans and Unrealistic Bids

Publisher Name: 
New York Times

By May 2002, the government's effort to build a technologically
audacious new generation of spy satellites was foundering.




The contractor building the satellites, Boeing, was still giving
Washington reassuring progress reports. But the program was
threatening to outstrip its $5 billion budget, and pivotal parts of
the design seemed increasingly unworkable. Peter B. Teets, the new
head of the nation's spy satellite agency, appointed a panel of
experts to examine the secret project, telling them, according to one
member, "Find out what's going on, find the terrible truth I
suspect is out there."




The panel reported that the project, called Future Imagery
Architecture, was far behind schedule and would most likely cost $2
billion to $3 billion more than planned, according to records from the
satellite agency, the National Reconnaissance Office.




Even so, the experts recommended pressing on. Just months after the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and with the new satellites promising
improved, more frequent images of foreign threats like terrorist
training camps, nuclear weapons plants and enemy military maneuvers,
they advised Mr. Teets to seek an infusion of $700 million.




It took two more years, several more review panels and billions more
dollars before the government finally killed the project - perhaps
the most spectacular and expensive failure in the 50-year history of
American spy satellite projects. The story behind that failure has
remained largely hidden, like much of the workings of the nation's
intelligence establishment.




But an investigation by The New York Times found that the collapse of
the project, at a loss of at least $4 billion, was all but inevitable
- the result of a troubled partnership between a government seeking
to maintain the supremacy of its intelligence technology, but on a
constrained budget, and a contractor all too willing to make promises
it ultimately could not keep.




"The train wreck was predetermined on Day 1," said A. Thomas
Young, a former aerospace executive who led a panel that examined the
project.




The Future Imagery project is one of several satellite programs to
break down in recent years, leaving the United States with outdated
imaging technology. But perhaps more striking is that the multiple
failures that led to the program's demise reveal weaknesses in the
government's ability to manage complex contracts at a time when
military and intelligence contracting is soaring.




The Times's examination found that the satellite agency put the
Future Imagery contract out for bid in 1998 despite an internal
assessment that questioned whether its lofty technological goals were
attainable given the tight budget and schedule.




Boeing had never built the kind of spy satellites the government was
seeking. Yet when Boeing said it could live within the stringent
spending caps imposed by Congress and the satellite agency, the
government accepted the company's optimistic projections, a
Panglossian compact that set the stage for many of the travails that
followed. Despite its relative inexperience, Boeing was given
responsibility for monitoring its own work, under a new government
policy of shifting control of big military projects to contractors. At
the same time, the satellite agency, hobbled by budget cuts and the
loss of seasoned staff members, lacked the expertise to make sound
engineering evaluations of its own.




The satellites were loaded with intelligence collection requirements,
as numerous intelligence and military services competed to influence
their design. Boeing's initial design for the optical system that
was the heart of one of the two new satellite systems was so elaborate
that optical engineers working on the project said it could not be
built. Engineers constructing a radar-imaging unit at the core of the
other satellite could not initially produce the unusually strong radar
signal that was planned.



A torrent of defective parts, like gyroscopes and electric cables,
repeatedly stalled work. Even an elementary rule of spacecraft
construction - never use tin because it deforms in space and can
short-circuit electronic components - was violated by parts
suppliers.




By the time the project, known by its initials, F.I.A., was killed in
September 2005 - a year after the first satellite was originally to
have been delivered - cost estimates ran as high as $18 billion.




"The F.I.A. contract was technically flawed and unexecutable the day
it was signed," said Robert J. Hermann, who ran the National
Reconnaissance Office from 1979 to 1981 and in 1996 led the panel that
first recommended creation of a new satellite system. "Some top
official should have thrown his badge on the table and screamed, 'We
can't do this system at this price.' No one did."




Boeing's point man on the job was Ed Nowinski, an engineer who had
become a top government spy satellite expert during 28 years at the
Central Intelligence Agency. "It was a perfect storm," Mr.
Nowinski said ruefully. But he acknowledged that Boeing frequently
provided the government with positive reports on the troubled
project.




"Look, we did report problems," Mr. Nowinski said, "but it was
certainly in my best interests to be very optimistic about what we
could do."




Boeing, which fired Mr. Nowinski as the project fell apart, declined
to comment. A spokeswoman, Diana Ball, said Boeing could not discuss
classified programs.




The Times's examination was based on interviews with more than 30
government and industry officials involved with the project, many
discussing it publicly for the first time. Some agreed to be
interviewed on the condition that they not be identified because many
aspects of the project remained classified. They said they were
willing to talk because they hoped an airing of its history would help
prevent similar misadventures in the future.




Asked about the recent problems with F.I.A. and other satellite
programs, Senator Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri and vice
chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said, "It's fair to say we
have lost double-digit billions on satellite programs that weren't
effectively managed by the government."




This year, a stealth satellite program was killed by Mike McConnell,
the director of national intelligence. Also, a new generation of
infrared satellites for detecting missile launches has barely survived
cost overruns and technical setbacks.




Taken together, these episodes represent a stark reversal for a
satellite program born in the most perilous years of the cold war,
when American technology answered the call of national defense by
taking spying into space.




Today, space technology has lost its luster for young engineers, who
are drawn increasingly to companies like Google and Apple. Defense
experts say the entire acquisition system for space-based imagery
technologies is in danger of breaking down. And the nation, at least
for now, has been left without advanced new systems to replace a
dwindling number of reconnaissance satellites first designed in the
1970s and updated in the 1990s.




Even though reconnaissance satellites are less useful in spying on
terrorist groups than on more traditional threats like foreign
military forces, they remain integral to intelligence and military
operations, including monitoring nuclear and missile installations in
Iran and North Korea. They are also critical to Pentagon mapmaking and
the targeting of precision-guided weapons like cruise missiles.




"There is not a gap in the coverage we are providing, but our
constellation is fragile," said Alden V. Munson Jr., deputy director
of national intelligence for acquisition.




Since the F.I.A. debacle, the National Reconnaissance Office has
banned Boeing from bidding on new spy satellite contracts. But all the
news was not bad for Boeing. The company received a $430 million kill
fee for the optical satellite system. And, despite the ban, the
radar-imaging satellite remained in Boeing's hands.


Response to Soviet
Threat



The first generation of photo reconnaissance satellites was developed
in the waning months of the Eisenhower administration, in a frantic
effort to measure the Soviet threat.


The satellite system, code-named Corona, was the product of an
inspired partnership of government, science and industry. The Central
Intelligence Agency set broad goals and then let the Lockheed
Corporation, with help from the Air Force, figure out how to build the
satellites, get them into orbit and return the film canisters to earth
without burning up as they plunged through the atmosphere.




In the mid-1970s, the same partnership developed systems that
electronically captured and transmitted pictures moments after they
were recorded. These electro-optical satellites were among the first
devices to use the technology now common in digital cameras.




They were followed in the 1980s by radar-imaging satellites, which can
see though clouds and operate in darkness, bouncing radar signals off
the earth to plot terrain and paint images of objects on the
ground.




By the 1990s, though, the threats to national security - and the
world of satellite intelligence - were undergoing convulsive
change.




Familiar targets like Soviet air bases and missile factories were
being supplanted by the more varied and elusive threats of the
post-cold-war world. At the same time, the armed services, eager for
increased tactical intelligence after the 1991 Persian Gulf war, were
demanding satellites that could stream battlefield data instantly to
commanders around the globe.




In 1996, a commission created by the director of central intelligence
recommended building a fleet of light, small, relatively inexpensive
satellites that, according to a declassified version of the panel's
report, could together be at least as effective as the Lockheed
behemoths then in orbit. (They cost about $1 billion apiece, weighed
30,000 pounds and were the size of a bus.)




Having more satellites in orbit, the theory went, would increase
"revisit time," the number of times a day satellites pass above
target sites. That would help combat increasing efforts to camouflage
such sites.




Lighter satellites would require cheaper and less powerful rockets
than the Titan IV's then in use, which could cost $450 million per
launching. The panel also envisioned saving money and time by taking
advantage of technologies and parts developed by commercial satellite
companies.




But as the concept took shape, several powerful forces were bearing
down, turning the satellite procurement system to quicksand, military
experts said.




One was the new policy, cousin to the Clinton administration's
effort to downsize government, of transferring control of big military
projects to contractors, on the theory that they could best manage
engineering work and control costs.




Another factor was a decline of American expertise in systems
engineering, the science and art of managing complex engineering
projects to weigh risks, gauge feasibility, test components and ensure
that the pieces come together smoothly.




Finally, troubled by the free-spending habits of the satellite agency,
Congress demanded rigid spending guidelines for the satellite
project.




The first concerns about the project's formula - high-concept
technology on a fast schedule with a tightly managed budget - came
from the satellite agency itself.




In early 1997, as the project began to move from conceptual thinking
to concrete planning, the agency's acquisition board, which reviewed
programs at an early stage, questioned the feasibility of the new
approach, given the expected $5 billion budget cap for its first five
years. As Dennis D. Fitzgerald, the agency's principal deputy
director from August 2001 until last April, recalled, the board's
review "had the most reds and yellows" - agency parlance for
cautionary notes - he had ever seen.




Even so, in January 1997, the agency invited military companies to a
classified briefing about the project now called Future Imagery
Architecture.


A Company Trying to
Diversify



Albert D. Wheelon, who founded the Directorate of Science and
Technology at the C.I.A. in 1963 and played a leading role in the
early development of spy satellites, said in an interview, "Writing
winning proposals is different from building winning
hardware."


That could be an apt epitaph for Boeing's handling of F.I.A.




Boeing, famous for making airplanes, had never built an
electro-optical or radar-imaging spy satellite. But with the European
Airbus consortium threatening its commercial airliner business, the
company was trying to diversify.




By contrast, the other invited bidder, Lockheed, saw the contract
almost as an entitlement, military and government officials said.




Lockheed all but owned the imagery-satellite franchise. Over four
decades, as the company built successive generations of satellites,
the government had, in effect, invested more than $30 billion in its
operations. What is more, Lockheed had recently acquired the
traditional builder of radar-imagining satellites, Martin Marietta
(and with it a new name, Lockheed Martin).




"Lockheed believed it had this program in the bag," said Leslie
Lewis, a military analyst who reviewed the project for a Rand
Corporation study.




As Boeing mobilized, Ed Nowinski seemed the perfect man to pursue the
prize.




Mr. Nowinski, 63, was familiar with the concept of smaller satellites
from his years at the C.I.A. An electrical engineer, he had joined the
agency in 1967 and worked on the first electro-optical systems.
Eventually, he became head of the agency's satellite development
programs and of imagery operations at the National Reconnaissance
Office and received several medals for distinguished service.




Former co-workers describe Mr. Nowinski as a fine engineer and an easy
colleague, an unassuming man who took pride in working on secret
projects that enhanced American security. They also said he could be
insufficiently demanding, a potential weakness for someone running a
multibillion-dollar project. Mr. Nowinski did not contest the
description in an interview.




His government career had ended abruptly in October 1995, when the
C.I.A. fired him for using a government car for personal travel. Mr.
Nowinski said he was trying to make the most efficient use of his time
when he was swamped with work and had to travel frequently between his
home and several government offices in the Washington area.




In 1998, a former C.I.A. colleague, Robert J. Kohler, invited Mr.
Nowinski to help Boeing put together its satellite proposal. He was
soon living in a rented apartment near the Boeing defense systems
offices in Seal Beach, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, working 12
hours a day, 7 days a week on Team 377, the company's secret
planning group.




"I never imagined they would recompete the business," Mr. Nowinski
said. "When Lockheed didn't call, Bob and I figured we'd go with
the underdog."




Mr. Kohler recalled that Team 377 requested $100 million just to draft
the proposal; he said Harry Stonecipher, Boeing's president at the
time, gave his approval the next day. Before long, more than 300
engineers and other specialists were at work in Seal Beach.




If they looked like underdogs, they had history on their side. Mr.
Fitzgerald, the reconnaissance office's former deputy director, said
the government had traditionally found it hard to resist new bidders
on space programs, with their allure of new ideas and lower costs.
Indeed, of 18 government space programs re-opened for competitive
bidding between 1977 and 2002, all but two ended up changing hands, he
said.




Mr. Fitzgerald explained the dynamic this way: "You as the incumbent
are probably going to write a realistic proposal because you know
what's involved and propose pretty much what you've been doing,
since it has been successful. Your competitor, out of ignorance or
guile, is going to write probably a more imaginative, creative
proposal for which there is almost no backing."




He added, "It's a little like a divorce, and running off with
another woman."




The leaders of Team 377 realized that the best hope of impressing the
satellite agency was to design a system that was cheaper and better -
more technologically daring - than anything Lockheed might propose.
Having worked closely with Lockheed while at the C.I.A., Mr. Kohler
said: "I knew what Lockheed Martin was going to do. We would do
things 180 degrees differently."

Multiple Design Challenges


Designing and building a precision-pointing, high-resolution
electro-optical satellite - roughly the equivalent of the Hubble
Space Telescope - requires melding many engineering disciplines.




The satellite must withstand the explosive force of being rocketed
into orbit, then operate flawlessly for years in the unforgiving
environment of space.




To position itself for picture taking, it requires delicately tuned
attitude control and propulsion systems.




The electro-optical system presented an especially formidable
challenge. The large, heavy satellites of the past had been effective
at limiting the movement and vibrations that might mar picture taking,
just as a tripod can eliminate blurred images with hand-held
cameras.




"If you vibrate, you're looking at Jupiter," one satellite
expert said.




Boeing, in effect, sought to replace the tripod with a system that
would automatically adjust the image to compensate for any vibration,
much as a camcorder does, but on a far grander, more exacting
scale.




The team also wanted an optical system that could take wide-angle
images, showing large areas on the ground, as well as tightly focused,
detailed pictures of small objects. The goal, to use an oversimplified
analogy, was a revolutionary zoom lens.




As for the radar-imaging satellite, Boeing designed a relatively
simple system with one major exception: to improve image quality, it
would produce a far stronger radar signal than any previous satellite
had.




Pulling off such complex new technology typically requires extensive
testing and work on multiple solutions to especially difficult
problems. There is no margin for error - once in orbit, a broken
satellite cannot be easily fixed.




Yet the budget for F.I.A. was limited and not very elastic, unlike
those for many earlier projects.




"Some programs are slightly underfunded, some are significantly
underfunded," said Mr. Young, chairman of one of the panels that
examined the project and a former Martin Marietta executive. "F.I.A.
was grossly underfunded."




Congress had set a cap of $5 billion for the first five years, with
spending limited to $1 billion a year. (It also budgeted $5 billion
more for the life of the project, including multiple satellites.)
While the prime contractor could seek additional financing for
unanticipated costs, the contract would discourage overruns or delays
with financial penalties.




Also, the satellite agency, under pressure from Congress to control
costs, would no longer have a reserve fund. "From 1961 to 1995, the
N.R.O. had never delivered a program that I'm aware of on cost or on
schedule," Mr. Fitzgerald said, adding, "But we always had this
margin that would allow us to buy our way out of problems."




To underscore the importance of the budget cap, the agency changed its
system for scoring contract bids. Previously, price had rarely
accounted for more than 25 percent of a company's score. Now it
would account for 50 percent.




As Boeing was putting the finishing touches on its proposal, Mr.
Kohler said he warned the company that a $5 billion bid was
unrealistic.




"I did a simple calculation," he recalled. "I took what it had
cost to build a comparably complex system before, figured in
inflation, and realized the project would cost $4 billion more than
the government had planned and Boeing was proposing.




"I said, "'We can't submit that bid.'"




Mr. Nowinski rejects the idea that the bid was off base. "We were
very meticulous in putting together the proposal," he said. Still,
he acknowledged, "It's true there was little if any margin to work
with."




Mr. Fitzgerald compared the bidding to liar's poker, a game based on
the serial numbers on dollar bills that relies heavily on bluffing and
gamesmanship.




"There's a lot of money on the table, and no wants to say that
they can't do it," he said. The ethic, he added, is "win the
program at any cost and sort it out later. Correct the government's
sins and my sins with overruns."




This time around, that would prove impossible.


Winning Bid Is
Announced



The National Reconnaissance Office announced its decision on Sept. 3,
1999, after studying the bids for nearly a year. The top brass at Seal
Beach gathered in shirt sleeves at 9 a.m. in the office of Roger
Roberts, head of Boeing's satellite operations. Over the
speakerphone, an agency official read a brief statement awarding both
satellites to Boeing.


"The room was momentarily silent," Mr. Nowinski recalled. "We
hadn't really expected to win the whole project. We figured we'd
be lucky to get the radar system. I was stunned."




They threw open the door and informed a crowd of colleagues waiting in
the outer office. The room erupted in cheers.




The final decision had been made by Keith R. Hall, who became the
satellite agency's director in 1997 after serving as a senior
intelligence official and deputy staff director of the Senate
Intelligence Committee.




Mr. Hall, now a vice president of the consulting firm Booz Allen
Hamilton, recalled in an interview that though both bids claimed to
fall within the spending cap, an agency evaluation team had calculated
that only Boeing's actually would. Its plan was also deemed the more
technologically innovative.




Even a former Lockheed Martin executive vice president, Albert E.
Smith, acknowledged that "Boeing wrote a better, cheaper proposal
than we did."




The upshot, Mr. Hall said, was that there was really "no choice in
the source selection." He added that he considered the Boeing
proposal executable, if moderately risky.




The award announcement had barely been completed, though, when
dissenting grenades started landing at the satellite agency.




Lockheed Martin, infuriated by the decision, filed a protest, which
froze the project for several months as the agency reviewed its
decision.




Eventually, Lockheed Martin withdrew its protest. Dennis R. Boxx, the
company's senior vice president for corporate communications, said
he could not comment on classified projects. But government and
industry officials said the company stood down after the agency
awarded it a consolation prize, a relatively small piece of the
project.




Within a few months, two cost-estimating groups, one operated by the
Pentagon, the other by the office that coordinates work among
intelligence agencies, determined that the Boeing plan would bust the
budget caps.




By then, Mr. Hall said, it was too late to reopen the bidding.




Nor did the cheering last long at Seal Beach. As Boeing moved from
writing its proposal to building the hardware, assembling a work force
of thousands, outside engineers questioned the photo satellite's
intricate optical system.




"There were a lot of bright young people involved in developing the
concept, but they hadn't been involved in manufacturing
sophisticated optical systems," said one military industry executive
familiar with the project. "It soon became clear the system could
not be built."




The design was eventually supplanted by a more conventional approach,
partly to accommodate added intelligence collection requirements from
Washington, Mr. Nowinski said.




Expectations about relying on the commercial satellite industry for
parts and know-how proved wrong, since those companies curtailed
production and laid off experienced technicians after the dot-com
collapse.




Soon, defective parts began showing up in critical components, forcing
costly delays at Boeing and some subcontractors.




'The No. 1 problem that killed us on this project was substandard
parts," Mr. Nowinski said.




One of the electro-optical satellite's most important components -
a set of oversize gyroscopes that help adjust the spacecraft's
attitude for precision picture-taking - was flawed, said engineers
involved in the project. The problem was traced to a subcontractor
that had changed its manufacturing process for a crucial part,
inadvertently producing a subtle but disabling alteration in the
metallic structure that went undetected until Boeing discovered it,
three years into the project.




Several kinds of integrated circuits for the electro-optical satellite
also proved defective. Even rudimentary parts like electric cabling
were unfit for use, several engineers said. Customized wiring did not
conform to the orders and in some cases was contaminated by dirt.




As for the sister satellite, Mr. Nowinski said, "We thought the
radar system would be a piece of cake."




But the plans were impeded by unexpected difficulties in increasing
the strength of the radar signals that would be bounced off the earth.
The problem, among other things, involved a vacuum-tube device called
a traveling wave tube assembly. Perhaps most surprising was the
appearance of parts containing tin, forbidden because it tends to
sprout tiny irregularities, known as "tin whiskers," in space. One
military industry executive said he was astounded when, several years
into the project, he got a form letter from Boeing telling suppliers
not to use tin.


"That told me there had been a total breakdown in discipline and
systems engineering on the project," he said, "and that the
company was operating on cruise control."


Signs of a Project
in Trouble



The tight schedule called for the radar-imaging satellite to be
delivered in 2004 and its sister spacecraft the next year. Three years
before that first deadline, government and industry officials say, it
was becoming clear that the project was in trouble.




As costs escalated, Boeing cut back on testing and efforts to work
several potential solutions to difficult technical problems. If a
component failed, Boeing, lacking a backup approach, had to return to
square one, forcing new delays.




Yet the company hesitated to report setbacks and ask for additional
financing.




"When you've got a flawed program, or a flawed contract, you
really have an obligation to go the customer and tell them," Mr.
Young said. "Boeing wasn't doing that."




The reason, according to an internal reconnaissance office
post-mortem, was the budget cap, and the steep financial penalties for
exceeding it. "The cost of an overrun was so ruinous that the
strongest incentive it provided to the contractor was to prove they
were on cost," the post-mortem found.




It did not help that the government ordered two major and several
minor design changes that added $1 billion to cost projections. The
changes, government and industry officials said, were intended to give
the electro-optical satellite the flexibility to perform additional
functions.




It was against this backdrop that Mr. Teets, the satellite agency's
new director, formed the review group in May 2002 that recommended
pressing on and seeking new financing.




The next year, the government ordered up another look at the project,
as part of a broader examination of failing military space programs.
The study, led by Mr. Young, reported that F.I.A. was "significantly
underfunded and technically flawed" and "was not
executable."




By this time, the government had approved an additional $3.6 billion.
Still, rather than recommending cancellation, the Young panel said the
program could be salvaged with even more financing and changes in the
program and schedule.




In an interview, Mr. Young said the panel genuinely thought the
project could be saved. Several members, though, said the group should
have called for ending the program but stopped short because of its
powerful supporters in Congress and the Bush administration. Among the
most influential was Representative Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat
on the House Intelligence Committee, whose Southern California
district includes the Boeing complex where the satellites were being
assembled.




The death sentence for F.I.A. was finally written in 2005. Another
review board pronounced the program deeply flawed and said propping it
up would require another $5 billion - raising the ante to $18
billion - and five more years. And even with that life support, Mr.
Fitzgerald recalled, the panel was not confident that Boeing could
come through.




That September, the director of national intelligence, John D.
Negroponte, killed the electro-optical program on the recommendation
of the reconnaissance office's new director, Donald M. Kerr.
Lockheed was engaged to reopen its production line and build an
updated model of its old photo satellite.




Government officials say the delivery date for that model has slipped
to 2009. Late last year, a Lockheed satellite carrying experimental
imagery equipment failed to communicate with ground controllers after
reaching orbit, rendering it useless.




Boeing calculated that its revenue losses from the cancellation would
total about $1.7 billion for 2005 and 2006, less than 2 percent of
forecast revenues. Having kept the radar-satellite contract, the
company is expected to deliver the first one in 2008 or early 2009, at
least four years behind the original schedule.


Failure to Launch:
In Death of Spy Satellite Program, Lofty Plans and Unrealistic
Bids



The satellite agency and military experts are still sifting through
the wreckage, looking for lessons - beyond the budget issues -
that would prevent a similar meltdown in the future.



In an interview in September, Mr. Kerr, who last month became
principal deputy director of national intelligence, said a pivotal
factor was selecting a company with no experience building imagery spy
satellites, especially when contractors were being given greater
responsibility for monitoring their own work. Boeing, he said, was
"in a way exquisitely unprepared to exercise judgment in certain areas
because it wasn't within their own experience."




The satellite office's oversight is faulted, too. Jimmie D. Hill, a
former deputy director, said transferring management authority to
military contractors was a morale killer for officers who worked on
Air Force satellite projects, many of whom had been recruited to be
midlevel managers at the National Reconnaissance Office.




"Most of the best and the brightest young captains and majors said,
'To hell with it, there's nothing for me to do here, I'm going
to go do something that's interesting,'" Mr. Hill said. "And
so you have a void in capability right now."




There is wide agreement among military experts that F.I.A. sunk under
a surfeit of data demands and technological risks.




"There's a good rule on projects like this," said Representative
Heather A. Wilson, a New Mexico Republican on the Intelligence
Committee. "Aim for only one miracle per program."




The government has taken remedial steps. While still at the satellite
agency, Mr. Kerr said he was working to attract and keep experienced
engineers and to improve cost-estimating and systems-engineering
expertise. At his invitation, Virginia Tech University is offering a
master's program in engineering management at agency headquarters
outside Washington.




Mr. Munson, the deputy national intelligence director for acquisition,
said competitive bidding for space programs would be initiated only
among companies deemed qualified. And the intelligence office has
formed an independent cost-estimating group to review project
proposals and set budgets. "We are not going to start programs we
can't afford," he said.




Keith Hall, the man who chose Boeing to build F.I.A., said the cost
caps distorted the entire enterprise.




"If I had to do it over again, I should have decided at the time the
cost cap was levied that we would just keep building what we had been
building," he said, referring to the Lockheed satellites. "I
shouldn't have allowed it to go forward."




In the dying days of F.I.A., Boeing fired Ed Nowinski. He returned to
his retirement home in Florida, where he keeps a hand in the space
business as a consultant.




He blames himself for some of the tribulations.




"You know, I might have been exactly the wrong guy for this
project," he said. "After 25 to 30 years in the government, I
think too much like a government guy. I was too sympathetic to the
government, tried too hard to make their jobs easier."




He also faults himself for failing to assemble a stronger team at
Boeing. "I should have been more brutal with the government and with
my people," he said.




Mr. Nowinski remains convinced that with adequate time and money,
Boeing could have built the electro-optical satellite. "We had
solved most of the problems," he said.

But, he added, "When
they say, 'We're turning the lights out, the game is over,' you
might as well go home."
 
AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
  • 9 Lockheed Martin
  • 10 Boeing
  • 24 Intelligence