Sign the LunarCOTS petition.


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Do you think the commercial space program led by SpaceX is the fastest and cheapest way for the U.S. to get humans back into low Earth orbit? Then why not do it for missions beyond Earth orbit?

The LunarCOTS petition is a campaign to have NASA subsidize private companies to design and build the United States’ future interplanetary missions rather than have NASA do it in big government programs like SLS. Makes sense to me, and so I signed the petition immediately.

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4 comments

  • wodun

    An advantage to doing it this way is that would be parallel development of technologies for less money than it would take NASA to do it. For whatever reasons, NASA has been developing technologies in a series.

    SLS suporters should get behind this because it would mean there could be something to go on the AresV (heh) other than Orion without having to wait another 10-15 years after SLS is finished. Of course if they took the SLS funding and pumped it into this new program and took advantage of existing launchers and in orbit conatruction, we could do something even sooner.

  • alex wilson

    Interesting. Why is it okay for NASA to fund one company for a “lunar COTS” operation, but not fund another company to develop SLS? Both will be designed and built by private companies, so what’s the difference? Is it because one claims to be “NewSpace”, and the other one doesn’t? Who cares, as long as it gets done?

  • libs0n

    1. The problem with SLS isn’t that it awards to the wrong companies, it’s that there was never a fair competition for a heavy lift vehicle provider in the first place, and that SLS itself is a bad way to do space exploration.

    The Senators who wrote the legislation that forced NASA to build the SLS made it a tens of billions of dollars hand out to their favored companies and excluded viable competitors who could have competed for the job. That type of special preference is wrong.

    The SLS locks us into a recurring high cost model that will lead to the extent of space exploration being rare and gimmicky, like the current plan of spending 30 billion dollars and a decade and getting a flyby of the moon out of it. It is a white elephant that puts limits on space exploration rather than leads to a more expansive evolving road that benefits us all.

    2. Part of the COTS program model is a fair competition for the system being developed where any company can compete for the job and isn’t excluded from consideration. If desired it can be structured so that more than one system is developed for the job, like how there are two cargo providers and three companies now developing crew vehicles. Competition allows us to get better knowledge of what is possible under the scope of the funds available and who offers more cost effective solutions so that better choices can be made with our budget for space exploration and get more out of it.

    COTS doesn’t exclude certain vendors from competing. The same company that was handed a SLS contract, Boeing, also won funds to develop a crew launch vehicle under the commercial crew program, but it had to compete for that contract.

    This isn’t about “new space” vs “old space”. Old space firms and new space firms are welcomed alike under the COTS model, but they have to play by the same rules, and face competition to win work.

  • wodun

    A significant different between a COTS/CCDEV and traditional NASA contracting is that the traditional way is cost plus and COTS/CCDEV is a set cost that is only awarded as milestones are reached.

    The most persuasive arguement against SLS is the opportunity cost of what we could do right now with the same funding. SLS isn’t only high cost in terms of development and operation but in time. $3b a year could buy a lot of F9 launches and payloads to go on them and those launches could take place as fast as NASA could procure payloads. We don’t need to wait for a SHLV.

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