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NASA Selects Space X & Boeing to SPLIT $6.8 billion Commercial Space Taxi/Shuttle Replacement

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posted on Sep, 16 2014 @ 03:51 PM
Today was the day NASA chose the two private companies who will replace Space Shuttle flights to the ISS.

Which means we won't be seeing this docking with the ISS anytime soon since the company who makes it lost out"

When NASA issues it request for proposals (RFP) it received responses from 36 different companies to build ships which could ferry astronauts to the ISS.

That was reduced to 4 and then 3.

Sierra-Nevada's "Dreamchaser" was the last remaining space plane to reach final selection only to be eliminated by two capsule based ships.

Boeing Co. (BA) and Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. will split as much as $6.8 billion in federal funding to help the U.S. resume manned missions and end its dependence on Russian rockets.

The contract to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station will pay a maximum of $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to closely held SpaceX, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said today. A third contender, Sierra Nevada Corp., was shut out.

The award caps a competition for the right to build the first U.S. manned craft since NASA retired the shuttle fleet in 2011. The agency now uses Russia’s Soyuz rockets to get people to the station, an arrangement that costs about $70 million a seat and is entangled in tensions with President Vladimir Putin over the crisis in Ukraine.

“We are one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017,” NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said in a statement. “Turning over low-Earth orbit transportation to private industry will also allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission -- sending humans to Mars.”

New Direction

NASA is charting a new direction 45 years after sending humans to the moon, looking to private industry to take over human missions near Earth with reusable craft while focusing its resources on far-off missions. The space agency is preparing the first rockets to take humans beyond low-Earth orbit in four decades.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., stands for... Read More
“I’m giddy today,” Bolden said at a news conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Boeing and SpaceX may each conduct as many as six missions as part of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract, NASA said. Payments will depend on the contractors achieving five milestones to be set by the agency before the spacecraft are certified as safe for human flight.

The award advances Musk’s ambitions for Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, the first private company to deliver cargo to the space station, to become a force in the global aerospace industry. Musk, 43, who also leads electric-car maker Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), has set an ultimate goal of sending astronauts to Mars.

Vertical Landings

SpaceX’s Dragon v2 capsule, which seats seven, was designed with an eye to interplanetary travel, able to land vertically anywhere on Earth “with the precision of a helicopter,” according to the company’s website, instead of parachuting into the ocean like early U.S. spacecraft in the 1960s and ’70s.

Boeing’s seven-passenger CST-100 has roots in the Apollo lunar-missions era, and its return to Earth would be cushioned by air bags and parachutes, according to the company’s website. Chicago-based Boeing was the only competitor to complete all of NASA’s design milestones on time.

The propulsion systems selected by the entrants also complicated NASA’s decision. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which would power the Dragon V2 capsule, exploded during an Aug. 22 test flight. Musk said afterward in a Twitter post: “Rockets are tricky.”

The Atlas V boosters chosen by Boeing have a flawless record launching high-priced military payloads. The challenge: The United Launch Alliance rockets rely on Russian-made RD-180 engines whose availability is threatened by tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

Also the fact that they chose to split the contract rather than just give it all to Space X or Boeing tells me they have some reservations about both of their abilities to meet the 2017 deadline.

What next for Sierra Nevada and their sleek Dreamchaser spaceplane?

Well this is just speculation on my part but Robert Bigelow has modules in orbit and in development on the ground but no ship to get to low earth orbit. Perhaps Bigelow Aerospace acquires Sierra Nevada?
edit on 16-9-2014 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 16 2014 @ 04:44 PM
a reply to: JadeStar

Glad space x got in - doing some real good work - thanks for the post

posted on Sep, 16 2014 @ 05:00 PM

originally posted by: Peter Brake
a reply to: JadeStar

Glad space x got in - doing some real good work - thanks for the post

I'm happy Space X got in but disappointed Boeing did (and I live in Seattle).

To me Boeing runs counter the real reason this program was developed: To foster innovation among small start up companies like Space X was until fairly recently and like Sierra Nevada, XCOR Aerospace and others are. The idea was to let the private sector bring down the cost of getting to the ISS and low-earth orbit and help the space transport industry become more like its tech industry counterpart.

Boeing seemed the most unlikely choice if one looked at the original spirit of the Commercial Crew program. But when they can promise 500 jobs to Orlando politics enters the fray and it starts to look like other government programs and less like the innovated public-private partnership envisioned.

Furthermore money to Boeing could have helped foster innovation elsewhere. Boeing could live without this contract. It's unlikely Sierra Nevada will.

It also smacks of Old Space rather than the promise of New Space. Old NASA people are comfortable with big contractors like Boeing, etc but those same big contractors have done next to nothing to bring down the cost of getting humans to low earth orbit
edit on 16-9-2014 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 16 2014 @ 05:32 PM
hopefully the others can come up with a business model that will allow them to fly thier designs.

posted on Sep, 17 2014 @ 05:20 PM
a reply to: JadeStar

That's exactly how I feel about it. Small start ups will be e innovation needed to transport us to Mars and beyond. Old military tech ppl and companies will have us paying another million bucks to reinvent the space pen...

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