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Sierra Nevada Statement on Commercial Crew Awards

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Sierra Nevada Corporation has issued the following statement concerning the Commercial Crew Program awards to Boeing and SpaceX:

“Sierra Nevada Corporation recognizes that NASA has made a selection of an alternative provider(s) in the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract (CCtCap) competition. SNC is planning to have a debrief session with NASA soon to obtain the source selection statement and decision rationale. When this process is complete and after a thorough evaluation, SNC will elaborate further on its future options regarding the NASA Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract decision and the Dream Chaser program. Due to this pending activity SNC will have no further public statement at this time. We will be providing further information at a later date.

“While SNC is disappointed NASA did not select its Dream Chaser® Space System for the CCtCap contract, SNC commends NASA for initiating the effort and is privileged to have been part of returning human space flight to the United States through our awarded contracts in all other phases of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program over the past four years.”

A Few Thoughts on Commercial Crew….

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It’s been two days since NASA announced commercial crew awards to Boeing and SpaceX. Now that the blogosphere and Twitterati have had their say, let’s step back and take a closer look at the most misunderstood aspect of NASA’s decision.

Much has been made about the disparity in award amounts, with Boeing receiving $4.2 billion and SpaceX “only” $2.6 billion. The difference has been variously attributed to SpaceX’s lean operations, Boeing’s high costs and overhead, and Boeing’s political influence on Capitol Hill. Some people believe NASA shafted SpaceX, giving far less funding to a superior company.

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NASA Awards Commercial Crew Deals to Boeing, SpaceX

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Bolden announced that Boeing and SpaceX will share contracts worth up to $6.8 billion. Details to follow.

Early reports indicate Boeing gets $4.2 billion with SpaceX getting $2.6 billion.

Statement by Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello in Response to NASA’s Commercial Crew Award Announcement 9/16/2014:
“First and foremost, congratulations to Boeing and SpaceX for being selected by NASA to provide commercial crew transport of U.S. astronauts to Low Earth Orbit.
“Today’s announcement is continued good news for Florida and for the nation. It advances a new era in space transportation and is the next major step toward restoring U.S. capability to fly astronauts to the ISS and beyond. Both Boeing and SpaceX have already invested significant time and resources into establishing commercial crew operations here in Florida and we look forward to working hand-in-hand with both companies to make their upcoming missions successful.”

Report: Blue Origin Joined Boeing Commercial Crew Bid

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At Blue Origin’s West Texas facility, the BE-3 engine demonstrated a full simulated suborbital mission profile, igniting, throttling, and restarting on command. (Credit: NASA)

At Blue Origin’s West Texas facility, the BE-3 engine demonstrated a full simulated suborbital mission profile, igniting, throttling, and restarting on command. (Credit: NASA)

The Wall Street Journal reports that Blue Origin has joined Boeing’s commercial crew bid as a partner, although in what capacity remains unclear.

The newspaper also reports that Jeff Bezos’s space company will team with United Launch Alliance to develop a replacement first-stage engine for the Atlas V, which will launch Boeing’s CST-100 crew vehicle to the International Space Station. The new engine would replace the Russian RD-180 engine.

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Will Commercial Crew Announcements Be Made on Tuesday?

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Editor’s Note: If Sierra Nevada wins an award for Dream Chaser and Boeing is out, this will be the biggest upset in American history since Washington defeated Cornwallis at Yorktown.

OK, that may be a bit much. Let’s say the biggest upset since Joe Namath and the upstart New York Jets defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3 back in 1969. Broadway Joe guaranteed it, and he made good on his promise.

Imagine that I’m actually speaking this with a How-WARD Co-SELL accent. It will sound funny, believe you me. For those who don’t remember Howard, think of a deep nasal voice combined with a record needle being scratched on a blackboard. That’s not exact, but it is pretty close.

OK, so a lot of you don’t know what a blackboard and record needle are. Remember when Roseanne Barr tried to sing the National Anthem that one time? Kind of like that, only male and very nasal.

UPDATE: Andy Pasztor of The Wall Street Journal says Boeing is likely to take the bulk of the award. We will see what NASA does tomorrow. Stay tuned, everyone.

CSF Elects Frank DiBello as New Chairman, Adds New Associate Member

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Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that it has elected Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida, as its new Chairman succeeding Stuart Witt, CEO of Mojave Air & Space Port. At its semi-annual Board of Directors meeting this week in Jacksonville, Florida, the CSF also elected Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace and Sean Mahoney of Masten Space Systems to the Executive Committee of the Board, joining DiBello, Tim Hughes (SpaceX), Rob Meyerson (Blue Origin) and Mark Sirangelo (Sierra Nevada Corporation), who were reelected.

Also at the meeting, the full Board approved adding Interflight Global Corporation to the associate membership of the organization.

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NASA and Commercial Partners Review Summer of Advancements

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) – NASA’s spaceflight experts in the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) met throughout July with aerospace partners to review increasingly advanced designs, elements and systems of the spacecraft and launch vehicles under development as part of the space agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) and Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiatives.

Blue Origin, The Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX are partners with NASA in these initiatives to develop a new generation of safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit.

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Space Florida Sets Boeing Commercial Crew Rent

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High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

Florida Today reports that Space Florida will charge Boeing up to $1 million per year in rent for facilities at the Kennedy Space Center where the company would assemble commercial crew vehicles.

The agreement is contingent upon Boeing winning a contract under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to build the CST-100 spacecraft, which would transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA is expected to announce the next round of program funding soon.

The 10-year lease, which would begin on Jan. 1, 2015, would include a former space shuttle processing facility, an engine shop and offices. Space Florida would spend up to $20 million to renovate the facilities.

Boeing has said the NASA contract would allow it to base more than 500 jobs in Florida. However, the company is not expected to continue with CST-100 development if it does receive additional funds from the space agency.

Boeing is in competition with SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corporation, which also are developing vehicles under the program. NASA expects to announce the next round of funding shortly. It is likely that at least one of the competitors will be eliminated.

SNC Abandons Own Hybrid Motors on Dream Chaser

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Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System Test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System Test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sierra Nevada Corporation won’t be using its own hybrid rockets for its Dream Chaser space shuttle, making it the second company in recent months after Virgin Galactic to dump the nitrous oxide-rubber motors.

Kathy Lueders, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), revealed the change in an update during the third quarterly meeting of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) on July 24.

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NASA Commercial Crew Decision Expected Soon

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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.