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An contract extension from NASA for SpaceX and Sierra Nevada

NASA has given SpaceX and Sierra Nevada six additional months, until March 2015, to complete their last contractual milestones for building their manned spacecraft.

An amendment signed by William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, on May 16 gives SpaceX until March 31, 2015, to complete the 14th and final milestone under its $440 million CCiCap agreement — a pad abort test of its Dragon capsule. The test originally was planned for April 2014.

On May 19, Gerstenmaier signed a similar amendment to Sierra Nevada’s $212.5 million CCiCap award to extend work associated with flight tests of the company’s Dream Chaser engineering test article until March 31, 2015.

NASA’s third Commercial Crew partner, Boeing, is on track to complete all its milestones, worth a combined $460 million, by the end of August,

The significance of this extension is that it reveals something about the dates for both SpaceX and Sierra Nevada’s next flight tests. The previously date for the pad abort test for Dragon had most recently been set for this summer. They are obviously not meeting that schedule and need more time. Sierra Nevada meanwhile wants to fly its Dream Chaser test vehicle some more, but apparently needs time to get it flight ready after it sustained damage during landing on its one and only flight test.

In addition, this extension suggests something about NASA’s assessment of the efforts of all three companies. The agency is supposed to down select to two companies by the end of the summer. The extension suggests that they are hoping to keep all three companies funded so that they all build their spacecraft.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

2 comments

  • Robert Clark

    Thanks for that. I certainly hope at least two will be funded.

    Bob Clark

  • Kelly Starks

    I don’t think flight tests are related to this slip. if you look at the milestones due this year they are critical design reviews, certification work etc. It doesn’t really mater if its flying if you can’t show the design is completed, has actually considered all the issues it will need to handle in flight (in good and bad days), if the companies then went forward and tested for all those requirements. I know SNC is struggling with this and isn’t meeting internal (and apparently external) schedules. SpaceX has a rep for skipping over a lot of that which is a issue with their getting certification with the AF. Boeing on the other hand finished up a while ago, and obviously are the old hands at this with a real quality track record edge. (They are really the ones to beat in the competition)

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