Saturday, August 16, 2014

Coming Soon!....UNEMPLOYMENT!....

And it won't be a minute too soon for me!

According to my Reliable Sources, who haven't been wrong yet, the axe will fall Thursday, and if they can't process everyone out, it will continue on Friday.

Frankly, this will signal the Beginning of the End for the company as NOBODY will come back, no matter how much our "services will be in great demand" in 2016.

The only way I'd go back would be as a subcontractor to help the Boeing guys pull all the Boeing Proprietary equipment off the ships, inventory it, and help pack it up to be shipped back to Mother Boeing.

Getting a new set of people in there to run all the payload processing and monitoring equipment would slow the process flow down to a crawl, and throw the schedule seriously out the window.

The sad thing is that Boeing just shipped ALL the equipment and fixtures required to build the Payload Accommodation (fairing, avionics, launch vehicle adapter, ordinance, etc) down here in anticipation of us building it up on-site, saving the company about $500k per launch.

So, there's a warehouse full of stuff to build a complete set, plus spares, that might never get used.

Right now the launch platform is in "cold lay-up" (unpowered and unmanned), and the command ship is in "warm lay-up" (minimum crew and power), and all the equipment on board is deteriorating from lack oe.

Having brought all my former systems back up after the bankruptcy (an 18 month down time), I seriously doubt some of them will come up and operate after another two year shutdown.

Oh, was fun while it lasted, but I'm really looking forward to retirement!

I'm just too damn old and busted up to continue doing the job I was doing, and I think it's a fine time for my exit.......


  1. Congratulations are in order, I guess. I'm officially jealous. Right now, my plan/hope is retirement in about 4 years.

    It's kind of a shame how these contracts go through the motions of shipping stuff to your place that will never be used and just have to be shipped back to them. When I worked for Major South East Defense Contractor, we had a big part of the space station program for Boeing @ Huntsville. Our last big effort was a major push to prepare for a Critical Design Review, but the program was being cancelled as soon as CDR was complete.

    So we went through the review and dutifully did all the action items and the "I Swear To" lists. Then we all shook hands, said "it's been nice working with you" and went our separate ways.

    Sounds like what you've got going on.

    1. Since this isn't in the main body of the post, and I doubt that anybody from my (soon to be former) employer will see it, I'll "spill a few beans" here.

      I started working for Boeing in 2004 on this project, Sea Launch. Boeing provided the entire PayLoad Accommodation (the "PLA"), and did all the systems integration and management functions.

      At that time, Boeing owned 49% of Sea Launch, and was the proverbial "Deep Pockets" partner, who always picked up the tab when required.

      Through various mismanagement fiascos by Sea Launch AG, the parent company, like selling the first 10 launches for about half the going rate, Sea Launch constantly struggled to make money.

      At the end of 2007, we suffered a spectacular failure at liftoff (the NSS-8 mission), and it took about 10 months to put the Odyssey Launch Platform back together, and recertify all the launch systems.

      Most customers with booked launches were able to get other rides into space, as we had "ride sharing" arrangements with Ariane, Proton, and Delta.

      One customer canceled their contract, and went elsewhere. After we were launching again, that customer came back and demanded all their non-refundable progress payments back rather than accept a launch at a later date, and like a dummy, the company went to arbitration instead of court (the customer clearly violated their contract), and LOST.

      Sea Launch worked out a repayment plan with this customer, and then at the very last minute before signing the repayment agreement, the customer changed their mind, and demanded payment in full (about $57 million, IIRC) immediately.

      This far exceeded the reserve capital on-hand, and Sea Launch declared Chapter 11 the next day.

      It took about 17 months to go through the courts (what a mess, and many vendors got nothing), and then Energia (the Russian company) swept in with a plan the court approved, and took over for pennies-on-the-dollar.

      Energia and the one of the other partners STILL owe Boeing $487 million in loan guarantees that have not been paid.

      Since Energia took over, the place has been literally falling apart, as they only put the minimum amount of money into running the place, and keeping the ships in good enough condition to meet safety requirements and get the launches done.

      I'm pretty sure this coming layoff will kill Sea Launch, as none of the people that will be let go will come back, and without people who know and understand the systems required to operate and monitor the payload accommodation, and other critical systems, they won't be able to launch.

      I suppose they could have something up their sleeve to replace a lot of the stuff, but swapping out equipment and rewiring the ships to use foreign equipment would take a year or more, and I don't see that happening.

  2. You are my hero! I desperately want to retire, but several years remain before that.

    1. Hang in there, buddy!

      Our family income is going to take a 40% hit when I retire, but we'll get through. We don't live extravagantly, and have some good savings built up, so we'll do OK.

  3. Retirement is like the old "hitting yourself with a hammer" joke. It feels so good when you stop (working). Best of luck and health.

  4. Yep, stick a fork in it... Not your responsibility any longer...

  5. Not with a bang, but a whimper ... but any way out is a good one at this point.

    1. Yeah, and I had a very nice "Goodbye" email I was going to send to the "all@company" address about me riding off in to the sunset, etc.

      Oh well........

  6. That's who I figured it was. Well you dropped enough clues before. Now you'll be able to spend all your time on fun projects such as the Supra, and SDR -- once you're through the honeydew list, that is. ;-)

    I picked up a PacComm Tiny-2 Mk 2 for $2 today. It'll sit for a while though.

    Congrats on the retirement.

    1. Oh, boy....PacComm!

      I worked at a start called "Radio Satellite Integrators" doing GPS vehicle and asset tracking from about 1993 to 1999, and when I first started there there were using that TNC, and having PacComm build their units. One of the guys there was a Ham, and he came up with the idea for a commercial product based on what Bob Bruninga, WB4APR was doing with APRS.

      The delivery schedule was never being met by PacComm, and the quality control was on an "MFJ level", so they had STACKS of units sitting around that didn't work.

      PacComm would simply send more units, hoping they'd work, and tell RSI to send back the defective ones "when you can and we'll fix them".

      It was a major Charlie Foxtrot all around. They originally hired me to just "do some soldering", and within six months I was their Staff Engineer. NONE of the three partners working there knew jack about electronics except the one guy that was the Ham, and he didn't know which end of a soldering iron to pick up!

      This was back in the days before the GPS constellation was finished, and sometimes we'd have to come it at odd hours to test stuff just because that was when enough satellites would be overhead son the GPS module (a Motorola Oncore) could get a 3D fix!

      I redesigned the motherboard, and we eventually just wound up buying a "bare" Tiny-2 TNC to use.

      I probably would have stayed there a while longer, but one year at the Christmas party the head guy (whattaa jerk!) made an impassioned speech about how the company was struggling, and they were going to keep the huge cash advance from a contract with Microsoft in the bank, earning interest, so that they could make payroll, and that the Christmas bonus would only be $200 this year instead of the promised $500, but at least we'd all get paid on time, every time, instead of getting late paychecks like we had been getting on a more than "once in a while" basis.

      The first day back after New Year's, all three of the company principals drove in with new cars, a Mercedes, a BMW, and an Audi.

      After watching all the other shenanigans that had been going on since I started there, I quit and went to DirecTV, who doubled my pay!

    2. Heh heh. Sounds like another winning company. Looks like they're still in business. Big market, I assume, based on what I've heard from truck drivers. Got bought by CalAmp.

      I also built an oscillator today. Wasn't supposed to be one. :-) One of these days, I'll try to build an oscillator, just to see if I end up with a class B amplifier, or something else.

    3. RSI was bought? Gee, I hadn't heard that.

      Yeah, the Big Guy there (he was literally The Pointy Haired Boss!) was always out for a fast buck.

      He'd get exotic equipment on "evaluation loan", and then not return it. Some of it he resold, and it always wound up the same way. They'd get sued, not show up, and settle out of court for the wholesale (or less) value of the equipment.

      The Head Programmer left Magellan to work full time there, and brought boxes of documents and computer discs with him.

      The one founder who was the Ham left for something more stable, and they screwed him out of about 75% of his original investment, even though they easily could have paid him.

      The guy would did all the CAD work and schematic capture of my redesign almost got screwed, but I called him and warned him to make sure he got paid IN FULL before turning over all the source files.

      Sure enough, he called me back a month later and told me they tried to "negotiate" the agreed upon price down to about half.

      The board house that was also doing all the assembly got so tired of being paid 90 to 120 days late, they finally came by for a big meeting. The Big Guy pissed and moaned that they were a small company, and had cash flow problems (a lie), and just couldn't pay any sooner, and could he get better terms for the contract they were renegotiating.

      The owner of the board house said "NO!", and then a whole group of people started walking in the door carrying boxes of components and completed units in, but only enough to match what had been paid for.

      He then said that they were NOT renewing the contract, and RSI could have the rest of their stuff as soon as their account was paid in full.

      That's how the place was run.

      They still owe me my last month's expenses for running around to vendors to check on things, and using my car as a test vehicle to check out completed/bench tested units.

      I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea......

  7. Retirement: half the income, twice the spouse. But I love it.


    1. yuk-yuk!

      She's going to continue working for another 3~4 years, so I'll have a lot of "MySpace time".

      And I still do some work on the side with commercial radio stuff for a couple of friends, but I don't include that.

      And I've got about 30~35 older "vintage" tube-type radios in the garage I've been collecting over the years. as those get rebuilt and sold, that'll be another minor income stream, along with similar work I do for others.

      Nope, won't miss going in to work AT ALL!

  8. Join the Retired Gang! Go to the Gunblogger Rendezvous! :-)

  9. Gunblogger Rendezvous

    Sadly, I won't be able to make it, just like the last 8 years.

    1. Ouch.....Reno.

      Vegas I'd go, but Reno is at least a full day's drive.

  10. Best of luck to you and yours


Keep it civil, please....

A Bit Of Rearranging In The Electronics Shop

 Since I've been cranking away on projects, I decided to rearrange things on the bench a bit to make it easier to use my test equipment....