Examination of Witness (Questions 80-99)|
5 JULY 2004
Q80 Chairman: So why did you not pull
it at some stage?
Professor Southwood: It is not
my responsibility to pull it. I made it clear what my position
was. I made it clear I required it to be safe and not to harm
the rest of the spacecraft, but there is a managerial division
you make. I had to cede responsibilities to the British, who were
managing it. As long as they were willing to deliver it, and they
delivered it eventually, we bent over backwards to get it up into
space. We took it months late. I had a special aeroplane to make
sure it got to Kazakhstan. We did everything we could to make
sure our side of the bargain was kept but, you see, you cannot
have two captains on the ship. That is a management principle
on which I am very firm. There was a division of responsibility.
If it had been my responsibility from the start, of course I would
have dealt with it differently and if necessary been able to cancel
it, but it was not my final decision to cancel. Of course I made
clear, and I think everybody knew, I thought it was extremely
high risk but, I ask you, what would you have done with it in
the spring of 2003? Did you know it was not going to work? I did
not know it was not going to work. I just thought it had a high
risk of not working. There was nothing else to do with it. The
next time we could have flown Mars Express would have been in
2009 because 2003 was a very special year.
Q81 Chairman: Really for the major project,
it was expendable. If it did not work, what the heck; it was the
British anyway that were involved?
Professor Southwood: I think you
have to ask the British what they thought. My responsibility was
to make sure that it was delivered.
Chairman: You have made it very clear
from your point of view what your responsibilities were.
Q82 Paul Farrelly: I appreciate from
this that you might not want to take a hitchhiker on board again
in the future.
Professor Southwood: No, I think
we were happy to do it. I certainly think it was a wonderful mission
and I actually still think it was money well spent. I strongly
resonate with what one of the earlier witnesses said about the
fact that the investment was in the skills that had been developed.
Q83 Paul Farrelly: That was the preamble
and not a question. We heard from Professor Pillinger that it
would have been, in his word, "nice" if they could have
looked for the wreckage of the lander if indeed there was wreckage
but the Express, the Orbiter, was the other way round the planet
and looking in the wrong direction. I do not know how accurate
that picture is but was there any sense or attempt in trying actually
to co-ordinate the two vehicles as you went along with the project
or were you just being a piggy-back operation?
Professor Southwood: No, you work
in the appropriate engineering environment. I think you have got
the wrong picture. Of course, what you are talking about is: where
was Mars Express when Beagle landed? In fact it went around behind
the planet because it was in the process of being inserted into
orbit. There was no point in looking for it at that stage. We
had no instruments working. We were going through the most critical
phase of our part of the mission, which was to make sure we got
into Mars' orbit. That was quite as important as making sure that
Beagle had earlier got on to an orbit that landed it. We had to
make sure that Mars Express got on to an orbit that did not land
it but put it into orbit around Mars. Of course later we looked,
when we had the cameras working et cetera, but we then had to
go through a massive number of manoeuvres to move from the equatorial
orbit we used to deliver Beagle to put us into the polar orbit
we used to survey Mars. I can tell you that was an enormous amount
of effort, very nail-biting, and it took us several weeks. If
that was not showing we bent over backwards for Beagle, I do not
know what was.
Q84 Chairman: Was that a high risk manoeuvre,
Professor Southwood: Yes, of course.
Q85 Chairman: You put yourself in that
position, with a high-risk strategy of re-manoeuvring yourself?
Professor Southwood: Absolutely
Q86 Chairman: That was even though Beagle
caused that to happen? Is that what you are saying?
Professor Southwood: I think you
are making an antagonism that I do not have towards Beagle. I
wanted to do my best for Beagle. Equally well, I wanted to observe
the managerial niceties and indeed it is a matter of discipline.
It is just a distinction. I cannot throw my weight around on issues
I have not paid for.
Q87 Mr McWalter: I am happy to probe
that antagonism a little, if I may. If the Government said, "We
are now going to put £35 million into a mission in 2007 under
Professor Pullinger's leadership", would you jump for joy
or would you be absolutely dismayed?
Professor Southwood: I would jump
for joy that the Government wanted to do that science. Personally,
I think it is terrific science. I think it is also galvanising
for the public. If you tried to do it with the same managerial
structure that was introduced in 1998, I would give the strongest
advice against doing it, but that is not to say anything against
Colin Pillinger. I am not criticising Colin Pillinger as a scientist.
The managerial structure of Beagle was highly original and I think
deeply flawed, but you do not find out that it is deeply flawed
until afterwards. If you had never tried it, you would still be
being pressednot you collectively but I would still be
being pressedto try such things.
Q88 Mr Key: Professor, it has been suggested
that some other European countries, notably France, were not impressed
that the project was called the British-led Beagle lander project.
Do you think it is true that deep down some Member States were
viscerally opposed to this?
Professor Southwood: There were
issues. I do not think "viscerally" is quite correct.
There are too many scientists in France who were enthusiastic
about the science and scientists do not get viscerally upset on
nationalistic grounds. Certainly there were problems because of
course you probably know that France at the same time was trying
to undertake a multiple lander programme called Mars NetLander.
I think the French Space Agency were concerned that there was
not sufficient IPR transfer to France to allow them to ride on
the developments being done by the Beagle team in Britain. I think
you can regard that as perhaps having commercial interests. I
do not think the word "visceral" really applies there
either. I think perhaps "commercial" might be a better
Q89 Mr Key: Was it all a question of
money really, given that there was no guaranteed state funding
Professor Southwood: For me money
is pretty basic. We have introduced new requirements, with a lot
of help from the British, let me say, to make sure money is available
and clear up-front and it is also clear who is responsible up-front.
I think when you have got money in your hand, the manager can
manage much better. I am a manager and I would like the people
I work with to be managers. Money is fundamental but managerial
structure is also fundamental. You have to know who has the final
say on things, who takes decisions, and there has to be a hierarchical
arrangement so that you know ultimately who carries the can. The
way this started with a gentlemen's agreement, it can work as
long as the gentlemen remain gentlemen. I think one of the problems
was that when the money is coming from diverse sources, when you
get into trouble it becomes difficult; when it is fair sailing,
Q90 Mr Key: Professor, why was the Casani
Review not implemented?
Professor Southwood: It was largely
implemented. I think you have to be cautious about saying "it
was not implemented". Parts of it were difficult to implement.
Q91 Mr Key: Why?
Professor Southwood: In particular,
we tried a very simple solution which was to put in a new management
structure, which eventually we put in. That was that the United
Kingdom Government gave Astrium UK a managerial role with a contract
and made it clear they were in charge. That took much longer than
was needed in the circumstances. Also I think there was the issue
of IPR. The entry-descent landing system was at the core of the
success or failure of the mission. That is self-evident. For me,
it would have been very good for ESA to take over that clearly
as a well-defined element that could then be managerially separated
from the rest of the lander. If you separate bits and pieces,
you do not separate the management. Then there is no line of command.
For me, the problem we then had of course was that there were
many sub-contracts and also certain companies had spent their
own money. If I were running a company and I had spent money,
I would not want to give it away, or I would be reluctant. We
were working against the clock. This was in the autumn of 2000.
I think that the best compromise was met, given the fact that
the clock was ticking and given the fact that we had managerial
Q92 Paul Farrelly: We have gone back
round in circles here about the management, in your words, being
deeply flawed. Are you saying that Colin Pillinger, who was the
inspiration and the driving force behind the project, is a good
scientist but is not necessarily a good manager?
Professor Southwood: I always
think in terms of things like sport. Colin Pillinger may be the
David Beckham but it is the manager
Q93 Paul Farrelly: He is not the Alex
Professor Southwood: It was not
Alex Ferguson I was thinking of but our Swedish manager but there
you go! Yes, Alex Ferguson will do. There are two different roles
here: there is the inspiration; there is the creativity, the imagination.
Colin Pillinger has it in spades. He has the public appeal. He
can persuade people, and he is right to do so. That does not make
him necessarily a good manager. There is a different skill involved
in management. I do not know whether David Beckham would be a
good manager. I have no idea.
Q94 Dr Iddon: Can I ask you, Professor
Southwood, whether you knew what the management structure of Beagle
2 was from the outset and, if it changed, when it changed? How
closely were you monitoring it?
Professor Southwood: I came in
in 2001. You will understand that I actually knew I was going
to take the job in late 2000. Because I wanted it a clean issue
and I did not want my nationality to become controversial, because
of issues associated with other countries, I actually remained
very out of it until I became the manager, until I became Director,
and that was on 1 May. I came in and within 15 days I had decided
that this thingit was very frustrating because I wanted
it to be successfulwas not going to work; I thought it
would be a failure then. I then dug my heels in and Astrium realised
that I was not just going to shell out money or anything like
that without a price; that is, without what I felt was a clean
managerial arrangement to convince me that it made engineering
sense. We spent a very difficult summer and I would not have minded
betting in June or July of that year that Beagle would be abandoned.
The problem was that we had already spent a lot of money"we",
the team had spent a lot of money, and that becomes very difficult.
Q95 Dr Iddon: Who are you directing your
criticisms at? I have written some down here: it was a highly
original management structure; it was deeply flawed; you cannot
have two captains on the ship. You have been very critical of
the management but were you directing your management criticism
at anyone on the Beagle 2 project and, if so, who?
Professor Southwood: Actually,
my primary target is not the Beagle 2 team; it is the fact that
they were in a system where they were trying something completely
new, which was not working. Then you have to do something about
it. If I sound critical, it is just because I do not want it to
Q96 Mr McWalter: Did you try and get
those changes? You say it was fantastic science and really interesting
and, lo and behold, 15 days after you have got your new job, you
are basically pulling the rug really. You had a very negative
attitude to the thing. I was involved in some of that. Given that
that was going on, why did you not insist that there would be
changes, say in the landing system, which would then have made
Professor Southwood: Because I
did not have the authority. I was not in charge.
Q97 Mr McWalter: You would have dumped
payload on your mission?
Professor Southwood: Yes, and
I would do the same with other countries. I have done the same
with other instruments in other countries.
Q98 Chairman: Who were you firing the
bullets at? Is it OST, the DTI or who?
Professor Southwood: In the UK?
Q99 Chairman: Yes?
Professor Southwood: I think I
am not really firing the bullets. I am just saying the system