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LLEGO - The Launch & Landing Effects Ground Operations Cost Model

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Disclaimer: This material is being kept online for historical purposes. The model, simulation or tool described is no longer maintained. It is no longer available on request, and/or may not function on current computer systems.



The LLEGO model loaded with the baseline Space Shuttle file.


LLEGO is a model of how a space transportation systems vehicle and organizational design relate to recurring ground operations and their costs. The operations that occur at a launch site from delivery of hardware, through integration, launch, and return (if applicable) are referred to at times as "ground processing", "launch site operations", "launch and landing operations", "check-out", "processing", "turnaround", or most often just "ground operations".


KSC ground operations has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience from decades of space transportation system operations. The KSC experience stretches from the Apollo program sending explorers beyond Earth orbit, to the Shuttle program advancing reusable transportation to low Earth orbit, to the preparation, integration and launch of hundreds of payloads, probes, and crews, to the launches constructing a Space Station, establishing an ongoing human presence in low Earth orbit.


LLEGO's usefulness comes from providing insight about the relationships between (causes), the design of flight elements or the design of operations processes/practices, and (results), the ground operations effort. Direct hands-on labor is only a beginning in understanding a spacecraft and a launch vehicles affordability and its productive potential for delivering people and cargo to and from space. Launching a system requires much more than just the direct hands-on labor. These other indirect functions are dependent on operations practices and technology applied in the extended supply chain network. LLEGO applies the Space Shuttle operations practices and technologies in its simplest “default” or “business as usual” mode, but is capable of modeling the effect on operations costs of new, improved industry or government processes and practices.


Papers & Presentations:

The Project:

Phase I - 2006-2007: The LLEGO model began development in 2006, following the ESAS study. LLEGO was funded under the Exploration Systems Analysis and Technology Assessment (ESATA) project on the expectation that better cost estimating tools were required to support analysis and trades post-Shuttle.


Phase II - 2007-2008: The LLEGO Phase I model/team was enlisted into supporting the Constellation (Cx) Standing Review Board (SRB) independent cost estimate (ICE) of the ground operations project (GOP) recurring costs (the estimated ground operations costs for when the Cx system was to be flying and operational).


Phase III - 2008-2009: In this phase the emphasis was on addressing the entire Cx architecture, including adding the Ares V launch system, addressing the recurring operations phase of the full-up dual launch vehicle architecture. Enhancements also added cost confidence levels and uncertainty into the model/analysis capability.


Phase IV - "LLEGO JCL" (Joint Confidence Level) - 2009-2010: In this phase, the SRB emphasis moved to providing “assessments” vs. independent cost estimates. LLEGO work has focused in addition on determining a Joint Confidence Level (JCL) for past work, the previous modeling and analysis of the full-up dual Cx launch vehicle architecture. The JCL concept means taking into account uncertainty in costs as well as schedule (or in the case of launch operations, processing times).


The Team:

  • Edgar Zapata, Principal Investigator & Contracting Officer Technical Representative (COTR), NASA Kennedy Space Center

  • Alex Ruiz-Torres PhD, Lead Developer, Blue Frog Technologies Inc.

  • Acknowledgements:

    • This project was initially funded in 2006 by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Explorations Systems Research & Technology (ESR&T) project. The team gratefully acknowledges:

      • Doug Craig, ESMD Directorate Integration Office (DIO)

      • Pat Troutman and Bill Cirillo of Langley Research Center, leads for the Explorations Systems Analysis and Technology Assessment project, area “11B” of the recommendations in the 2005 NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS).


Website Contact: Edgar Zapata, NASA Kennedy Space Center