An contract extension from NASA for SpaceX and Sierra Nevada


Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
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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.

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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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