NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build manned spacecraft to ferry crews to ISS


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The competition heats up: NASA has made a decision and has chosen two companies to ferry astronauts to and from ISS, and those companies are Boeing and SpaceX.

I am watching the press conference on NASA television. Some quick details from NASA here.

This is a reasonable political and economic decision. It confirms that SpaceX is ready to go and gives the company the opportunity to finish the job, while also giving Boeing the chance to show that it can compete while also giving that pork to congressional districts.

Some details: After NASA has certified that each company has successfully built its spacecraft they will have then fly anywhere from four to six missions. The certification process will be step-by-step, similar to the methods used in the cargo contracts, and will involve five milestones. They will be paid incrementally as they meet these milestones.

One milestone will be a manned flight to ISS, with one NASA astronaut on board.

One more detail. Boeing will receive $4.2 billion while SpaceX will get $2.6 billion. These awards were based on what the companies proposed and requested.

I will have more to say about this tonight on Coast to Coast, as well as on the John Batchelor show.

13 comments

  • Kelly Starks

    Weird non announcement? Never really came out and said the winners are — just as Bolden was going on about how cool Orion and CCDev were going to be mentioned how the Boeing and SpaceX teams were expected to….

    It almost seemed like the announcement of the winners had already gone out, and was just mentions as a aside in this presentation?

  • Doug

    If he said “President Obama’s vision” one more time, I was going to puke

  • geoffc

    Two questions to ask:
    1) ISS policy is to have a spare docking/berthing port available for berthing/docking ops. There are two CBM’s (so one cargo craft at a time) and 2 PMA’s (will get IDA/NDS adapters to allow Dragon/CST-100). So if they do a lifeboat mission, it will tie up one port for 180 days, which means no other manned US missions till it is done. Do they plan on more PMA’s?

    2) Per the safety standards they are following, did Soyuz ever go through them? How about the Shuttle? How about Apollo? (We know the answer is no, but it would be nice to hear them admit it and the hypocrisy of suddenly becoming safety conscious.)

  • Edward

    I hope that Sierra Nevada continues its development, just as Blue Horizon has done. I suspect that once there is a lot of access to low Earth orbit via such space taxis, the Bigelow space habitats will be very popular alternative space stations to the ISS.

    One of the problems with doing experiments on the ISS is that NASA insists that the data become public in five years, which gives a company a short period of time to develop its idea before the rest of the world can benefit from that company’s expensive research program.

    Another benefit of Bigelow space stations is that non-spacefaring countries can create their own space programs by buying, leasing, or renting-space-on a habitat and performing their own research. Some combination of SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and Blue Horizon would be available to taxi various countries’, companies, and universities’ astronauts to those space stations.

    The idea of space hotels for rich tourists, such as Sarah Brightman, would still be a likely destination for these space taxis.

    With each step toward the completion of the commercial space program, I get more excited that we may finally realize some of the dreams, ideas, and plans that the US had for space, half a century ago.

  • Doug

    Apollo went through several tests of the launch escape system. Including one test that showed just how well it worked.

    The booster fell apart and the escape system worked perfectly.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqeJzItldSQ

  • geoffc

    Not saying they did not test Apollo (I am saying they did not test the Shuttle). But the standards they are holding Commercial crew too, could Shuttle, Soyuz, or Apollo pass? Did they pass?

  • Steve C

    The Soyuz went through the test of having a rocket explode on the pad under a maned capsule. The escape system worked.

  • Abe Windsor

    Only the Columbia, only her first test flights had an ejection system that might
    have saved two pilots max. Never tested.
    Ascent and decent destruction events proved the Shuttle a fail not safe
    system….. Orginal design provided for the crew capsule to be an emergency
    escape pod . . . To expensive and heavy to build was the decision.
    Results we all now know…………

    AB

  • geoffc

    I do not think a ‘live’ test is what NASA has in mind for certifications…

  • Kelly Starks

    ;)
    Serious suck-uppage going on there.

  • According to statements made at the press conference, a live demo mission to ISS is exactly what NASA has in mind for certification.

  • geoffc

    Live test of the abort system, with humans aboard was the context.

    Live test of a SUCCESSFUL launch to the ISS of course.

  • Steve C

    We talk about the emergency escape system of spacecraft, but what is the emergency escape system of a 747? A proven safety record you say? OK, a Ford Trimotor then. As with the old sailing ships, your life belongs to the ship. You live or die with it.

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