NASA Commercial Crew Decision Expected Soon

Charles Lurio of The Lurio Reports that NASA is likely to announce contracts for the next round of the Commercial Crew Program on either Aug. 22 or Aug. 29. Sources have told him that the space agency is likely to make two full awards for partners to build and flight test their crew vehicles.

If he is correct, that would leave one of three competitors — Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation or SpaceX — without a seat at the table. Sierra Nevada and SpaceX have said they would continue with vehicle development if they are not chosen for this round. Boeing has said it would be difficult for the company to close the business case for its CST-100 spacecraft without additional NASA funding.

NASA’s goal is to have commercial crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of 2017. SpaceX has said that it believes it can begin service about a year prior to that deadline with its Dragon V2 spacecraft, which is an upgraded version of the Dragon cargo vehicle that has already flown to and returned from ISS four times. Boeing and Sierra Nevada have said they are on track to meet the 2017 deadline.

  • Paul451

    It depends what your goals are.

    If your goal is to maximise the number of operational systems, without regard to time, then fully funding Boeing, half funding SNC, and unfunded SAAs for SpaceX would be the solution. Anything else will likely result in Boeing dropping CST-100 and immediately sacking the workforce.

    If the goal is to return the US to space as quickly as possible, ending the dependence on Russia to the greatest degree possible, then you would fully fund SpaceX, fund SNC as much as possible with an emphasis in their milestones of adapting launcher compatibility to Falcon9 and Ariene5 in addition to AtlasV. And let Boeing rot.

    If the goal is to maximise the development of technology, then fully fund SNC, then Boeing. With unfunded SAAs for SpaceX. (Better yet, fully fund SNC, partly fund Blue Origin.)

    If the goal is to break the “cycle of abuse” by the Primes, again you’d fund SpaceX and drop Boeing entirely. (And maybe partly fund Blue Origin again, with unfunded SAAs for SNC.)

    If the goal is to protect that cycle of abuse, you’d switch to a cost-plus sole-source contract with Boeing, with an initial first-flight scheduled for some time after 2022.

  • Paul451

    Well yeah, nation-harming acts of madness and greed-bordering-on-treason defy logical analysis.

  • Paul451

    I’m not questioning that. I’m thinking Dragon being grounded after a major Falcon9 failure before Dream Chaser is flying, or after Atlas V is grounded due to engine supplies being cut off. Orion is still not “plan C” even when plans A & B have both failed.

    The time and cost to fix Falcon9/Dragon, and/or to adapt Dream Chaser to Ariene5/etc would be less than the time/cost to modify Orion to be compatible with the ISS (and DeltaIVH.)

  • duheagle

    Bigelow hired two astronauts two months ago and plans to have its first twin-BA330 station in LEO in 2017. Crew of 12. Bigelow figures to rotate them dirtside four to six times a year. That’s eight to 12 flights of any of these vehicles. In terms of market demand for crew transport, the ISS will quickly become a minor sideshow.