Tag: COTS

ASAP Identifies What NASA Got Right in COTS Program

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Cygnus_CRS1_onarm
In its 2013 annual report, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) calls the COTS program “extremely successful,” noting the space agency and its partners, Orbital Sciences Corporation and SpaceX, developed two new launch vehicles and cargo ships for less than the price of a single Space Shuttle flight.

The report provides a succinct synopsis of what NASA did right during the program:

It is important to point out that it was not simply the use of fixed-price Space Act Agreements that led to the Program’s success, although that helped to enable the successful outcome. Rather, NASA did a number of things right along the way, such as maintaining excellent program management, appointing well-qualified technical representatives to the PITs, providing the right amount of insight, requesting the right amount of information, and having the right number of Government attendees at industry meetings. Although the Government has much technical expertise to share, too much Government engagement can stifle industry innovation and/or significantly slow the “speed of decisions.” Finally, program flexibility made a substantial difference. One example of that was eliminating Rocketplane-Kistler as a partner when it failed to successfully complete program milestones and introducing Orbital Sciences Corporation to maintain competition for SpaceX. Another example was NASA’s willingness to combine SpaceX’s two demonstration missions into one when it became clear that all program objectives could be accomplished on a single flight.

“It would certainly not be appropriate for every Government program to use a COTS-type management philosophy, but we would encourage NASA (and other Government agencies) to consider adopting similar approaches where possible,” the report concludes.

NASA 2013 Highlights: Commercial Progress and Human Exploration Plans

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Photo taken by the Expedition 34 crew aboard the International Space Station during the March 3, 2013 approach, capture and docking of the SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: NASA)

Photo taken by the Expedition 34 crew aboard the International Space Station during the March 3, 2013 approach, capture and docking of the SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Looks Back at 2013

Commercial Space Progress

A little more than two years after the end of the Space Shuttle Program, NASA has returned the International Space Station resupply missions to the United States in a powerful partnership with U.S. companies SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, who are investing here and creating good-paying jobs for American workers.

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The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: A Tale of Two Human Space Programs

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commercial_crew_earthAll the promise, perils and contradictions of America’s human spaceflight effort were on display earlier this week in Washington, D.C.

Things were looking good for a day or so, but then the proverbial other shoe dropped to remind everyone of the deep trouble that lies ahead as NASA attempts to restore its human spaceflight capability and send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit.

As NASA struggles to execute a series of ambitious programs on increasingly tight budgets, the main beneficiary appears to be the bumbling, crisis prone Russian space agency Roscosmos, which has reaped a financial windfall as a result of America’s equally bumbling human spaceflight policy. And matters could get worse before they get better (for NASA, at least).

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NASA Hails Success of Commercial Cargo Effort, Looks Ahead to Crew Flights

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commercialcrew_360WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Wednesday hailed the success of the agency’s public-private partnership with American companies to resupply the International Space Station and announced the next phase of contracting with U.S. companies to transport astronauts is set to begin next week.

A little more than two years after the end of the Space Shuttle Program, the United States now has two space transportation systems capable of delivering science experiments and supplies from U.S. soil to the International Space Station. Under an ambitious plan funded by the Obama Administration, the agency is seeking to partner with American companies to send NASA astronauts to the space station as soon as 2017.

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Bigelow Urges Lunar COTS Program, Wants Moon Property Rights Review

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Artist's conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

Artist’s conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

A report by Bigelow Aerospace that was commissioned by NASA urges the U.S. space agency to take a commercial approach to lunar transportation  similar to the one used to develop transport services to the International Space Station, according to published reports.

Company founder Robert Bigelow, who has ambitious plans for private space stations and lunar bases, said on Tuesday that he will be applying to the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Tranportation (AST) for a policy review of lunar property rights by the end of this year, Jeff Foust reports from Washington, DC.

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Cygnus Completes Mission as Orbital Preps for December Cargo Run

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Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Dulles, VA, 23 October 2013 (ORB PR) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today confirmed that its Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand at approximately 2:15 p.m. (EDT). Cygnus unberthed from the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday following its 23-day stay at the station. The successful conclusion to its demonstration mission also completes the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) joint research and development initiative with NASA. Orbital is now ready to begin regularly scheduled resupply flights to the station later this year as part of a $1.9 billion Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.

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Cygnus Has Left the Station

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Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) – A cargo resupply demonstration mission by Orbital Sciences Corp. drew to a close Tuesday as Expedition 37 crew members aboard the International Space Station detached and released the Dulles, Va., company’s Cygnus spacecraft from the orbiting laboratory.

Cygnus had been attached to the space station’s Harmony module for 23 days. The spacecraft delivered about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food, clothing and student experiments. Future Cygnus flights will ensure a robust national capability to deliver critical science research to orbit, significantly increasing NASA’s ability to conduct new science investigations to the only laboratory in microgravity.

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NASA TV Coverage Set Cygnus and ATV Departures, Soyuz Launch Preparations

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Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) – NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of the newest U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft to deliver supplies to the International Space Station and undocking of the fourth European Space Agency cargo vehicle.

Coverage for departure of the Cygnus spacecraft begins at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 22. The spacecraft has been attached to the space station since Sept. 29 on a demonstration cargo resupply mission by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.

Coverage for departure of the fourth European Space Agency (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4) cargo spacecraft begins at 4:45 a.m.  Monday, Oct. 28.

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ISPCS Panel: When Government is Ready to Buy

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ispcs_logoISPCS Panel Discussion
When Government is Ready to Buy…

Moderator: Wayne Hale

Speakers:

  • John Mulholland, Vice President/ Program Manager, Boeing Commercial Programs
  • Mike Pinkston, Senior Vice President, Antares Program, Orbital Sciences Corporation
  • Lee “Bru” Archambault, Director of Flight Operations, Dream Chaser Program, Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Andrew Aldrin, DIrector of Business Development, United Launch Alliance

TWEETS

  • Former astronaut Michael “LA” Lopez-Alegria introducing the next panel: “When Government is Ready to Buy…” #ISPCS pic.twitter.com/blQKjXxWnF (Suzi Gordon ‏@suzigordon)
  • Now up at #ISPCS. Panel on “When government is Ready to Buy.” @waynehale moderator. He has really flourished in post-NASA career. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)
  • Note to self: quit talking about how #ISS PARTNERSHIP deserves Noble Peace Prize & find way to make it happen! (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)

Cygnus Performing Well as Controllers Plan Oct. 23 Re-entry

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cygnus_berthed_iss
Updated Cygnus Reentry Timeline

Via Orbital Sciences Corporation
October 11, 2013

Orbital’s Cygnus team has updated its thruster burn schedule for the spacecraft’s controlled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Following its unberthing and departure from the ISS on October 22 at approximately 6:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. respectively, Cygnus is now expected to reenter the atmosphere on October 23rd at approximately 2:18 p.m. (eastern) over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.

Editor’s Note — Here are some additional updates on the mission:

NASASpaceFlight.com says that Cygnus is performing well while docked to the station, with the exception of erratic performance by the ship’s cabin fan. That anomaly does not appear to be affecting the activities of the crew, which has completed unloading cargo and is now filling the ship with trash that will be disposed of when Cygnus burns up in the atmosphere.

Space News reports  that Orbital’s first paid cargo mission to the station will take place in late December or early January. Original plans were to launch the next Cygnus in early December. Orbital officials say the government shutdown has had no impact on mission preparation’s even though NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF). Orbital employees have been able to access the state-run Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS)  at WFF during the budget impasse.