The decision on manned spaceflight


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The rumors are swirling. Today alone the news included three different articles about NASA’s upcoming decision to down-select to either one or two in its manned commercial crew program.

The third article above speculates that the decision will be made shortly after this weekend, maybe as soon as next week. It also outlines in nice detail the companies who are competing for the contract.

I strongly expect NASA to pick two companies, not one, as the agency has repeatedly said it wants to have redundancy and competition in manned space flight. To this I agree whole-heartedly. Right now, if I was a betting man (which I am not), I would pick SpaceX and Sierra Nevada as the two companies to get the nod.

If NASA only picks one company that I don’t think there is much doubt that it will be SpaceX.

And then again, government agencies, because of politics, have sometimes made some incredibly stupid decisions. For example, back in the 1970s the company that proposed the space shuttle was rejected for another big space company that had more political clout, which then turned around and essentially stole the first company’s designs to build the space shuttle from them. It just took longer and cost more.

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3 comments

  • Kelly Starks

    Don’t think those of us here on the Dream Chaser and Boeing teams arnt stressing.

    >..And then again, government agencies, because of politics, have sometimes made some incredibly stupid decisions.
    > For example, back in the 1970s the company that proposed the space shuttle was rejected for another big space
    > company that had more political clout, which then turned around and essentially stole the first company’s designs
    > to build the space shuttle from them.

    Actually it was worse then that. NASA handed both Grumman’s orbiter design info, and Pratts main engine info, to Rockwell (and their rocketdyne subdivision) to replicate at a higher bid cost then the original companies.

    Interestingly (according to a former P&W exec in charge of their rocket engine group) not for the bigger clout of Rockwell – but because Grumman and P&W had big other contracts they were going to make far more money on absorbing their execs attention, and NASA execs were nervous about not getting the fawning attention they expected. Some of them were still the old transplanted Nazis who remembered being ignored (snubed) by most of the industry, but getting along fine with Rockwell.
    ;/

  • Edward

    > NASA handed both Grumman’s orbiter design info, and Pratts main engine info, to Rockwell (and their rocketdyne subdivision) to replicate

    My training at one company contained intellectual property (IP) protection. Among the many lessons was a warning that including in bids and proposals any company-proprietary IP could result in the government treating it as government property rather than company property, and the legal department absolutely had to be consulted before even mentioning it in any proposal.

    These seem to be examples of companies innocently losing control of their own property. Maybe these examples are *why* that lesson was in the training.

  • Kelly Starks

    I remember this not being considered the company mistakenly losing control. Though the gov does sometimes choose at their discretion to declare company info as public info.

    In any event, sueing them for breaking the law or their agreements seldom works out well for the suer.

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