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Turf war: At conference yesterday at the Johnson Space Center, NASA proposed changing how it issues its commercial space contracts so as to give it more control over their design and construction. The commercial companies are not happy.
Brett Alexander, a space industry consultant who counts among his clients the secretive aerospace startup Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., said at the July 20 briefing that industry needs to know NASA’s legal reasoning for dismissing SAAs as an option for the next CCDev round. “From an industry standpoint … we’re kind of flying blind because [NASA] has not divulged what its legal reasoning is, and I think they need to do that in writing. Not a couple charts, not things that you brief, but a legal brief that says ‘here’s why’” a traditional procurement is necessary.
My own sources say this change in contractual approach will significantly slow development of the new commercial manned space rockets and ships, possibly beyond 2017.
The only reason I can see for NASA to do this is to maintain control over manned space, even if they are not building anything. I think NASA is instead going to find out that doing anything to slow this development will be politically very dangerous for them.