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.
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.
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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.
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