US’s Commercial Spaceflight Bargain

by James Pura on August 6, 2012

US’s Commercial Spaceflight Bargain

Silicon Valley, CA - Today the Space Frontier Foundation cheered on NASA as it announced that it was partnering with Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada Corporation to develop the next generation of space taxis to ISS. The Foundation also cheered on the US Commercial Spaceflight Industry for embracing this new way of doing business, congratulating the winners, and encouraging the runners up to keep trying.

“This is a win for the American public, for American Industry, for NASA, for everyone,” said Rick Tumlinson, co-founder of the Space Frontier Foundation. “There are 3 vehicles moving towards operational flight under Space Act Agreements, meaning they will be rewarded for success, and not just effort. It’s important to note that industry and NASA will be equal partners. This will mean the development of vehicles that can serve government and commercial customers, increasing efficiencies, providing backup capabilities, and lowering the costs for everyone – just the kind of robust infrastructure we need to really open the frontier.”

This award, totaling over $1 Billion dollars, is being spread among three spacecraft and two rockets. Boeing was awarded $460 Million to develop its CST-100 spacecraft that will ride on United Launch Alliance (ULA)’s Atlas V rocket. SpaceX was awarded $440 Million to develop its Dragon spacecraft that will ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Finally, Sierra Nevada Corp was awarded $212.5 Million for its DreamChaser spacecraft that will also ride on ULA’s Atlas V rocket. And even though they did not win an award, NASA spoke very highly of ATK’s Liberty proposal.

“It’s great to see that NASA has embraced many commercial ideals for the Commercial Crew program,” said Jonathan Card, Executive Director for the Space Frontier Foundation. “But NASA needs to keep its eye on the ball, when it comes to completing the program. They still need to finalize a certification plan that is commercially based, fund the optional phase to see crewed test flights, and keep the focus on buying the ride, not the rocket. Of course, it would also be nice if NASA were allowed to embrace the commercial model for going beyond earth orbit, as opposed to funding the Senate Launch System.”

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