A COTS phase one space act agreement, going once, going twice…

by | Jan 29, 2008 | commercial launch services | 1 comment

So next month we finally get to find out who will inherit the $175 million (or some of it) left behind by Rocketplane-Kistler’s departure last year from NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration programme

According to Hobbyspace.com Space News has already named the finalists for NASA’s exploration systems mission directorate’s (ESMD) “prize” and they are Spacehab, Andrews Space, Orbital Sciences and PlanetSpace

Before all that happened I spoke to Planetspace and Spacehab, both of whom are working with Lockheed Martin

Find Chair Force Engineer’s view on the PlanetSpace/Lockheed/Alliant Techsystems (ATK) proposal here

My personal view is that at this stage, whomever wins the ESMD phase one SAA, what really matters is who wins NASA’s space operations mission directorate’s (SOMD) International Space Station resupply contract that it will place this year

International Space Station resupply is needed from late 2010, depending on when Shuttle is retired. Any one can apply for the SOMD contract so really this ESMD phase one SAA is a red herring

Yes, winning the SAA and successfully completing its milestones to receive NASA funding will not count against you but the SOMD contract is to be placed THIS year. If the contract is placed before Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)’s fourth quarter launch of its Falcon 9 rocket none of the likely bidders will have demonstrated any of the proposed COTS launch systems

Because of the use of proven Lockheed Martin and ATK rocket systems for Spacehab’s and Planetspace’s proposals I think these bids, even if they don’t win the ESMD SAA, have just as good a chance at winig the SOMD contract

It won’t be easy. It is going to be extremely difficult for anyone to beat SpaceX and win SOMD’s ISS resupply contract because much of the hardware used for Falcon 9 has already been test flown with Falcon 1, and the Merlin 1C will fly this April, if all goes according to plan, and SpaceX’s COTS milestones have all been successfull as far as we know and they have included COTS programme flight reviews

If anyone thinks I’m wrong, don’t hold back

I think the likely scenario for any possible competitor to win the SOMD contract, when they haven’t already won an ESMD SAA, is that SpaceX would have to fail in its SOMD resupply contract demonstration mission several times before another contractor was consideredBut if you think you have a shoe-in then you might as well adopt one of Jon Goff’s two-stage to orbit ideas

And talking of SpaceX, the actionforspace blog has a link to an interview with the company’s Chief Counsel all about how political action helped the “New Space” agenda

While on the suborbital side of things, beyond the torrent of Virgin Galactic material from last week, Leonard David has written an update about New Mexico’s Spaceport America and failed presidential nominee candidate and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has refocused on the spaceport in a recent speech

That spaceport is supposed to be open for business in 2010 but after the outcome of the Scaled Composites’ July 2007 explosion, and its impact on the company’s propulsion work, some may wonder if SpaceShipTwo and White Knight II will be ready in time

But others have decided to opt out of any potential trouble already

Whatever the outcome, MSNBC’s Alan Boyle’s Cosmiclog writes about the “unsung heroes” of Scaled Composites

Talking of engineers, Armadillo Aerospace has an update

And here, care of Hobbyspace.com, you’ll find some more new rocket info; this time about Orbital Sciences’ Taurus II, while another link is to the UK blog Rocketeers and its theory about a UK space station via Bigelow Aerospace

I’ll be attending the launch of the new UK civil space policy (yes we do have one) on the 14 February but a Valentine’s to space exploration I don’t think it will be

The Canandians however have their own ideas about how to exploit space, and here and here Hobbyspace.com provides coverage of the Canadian Space Commerce Association’s Accelerating Space Conference that was held at the University of Toronto

And finally, returning to things British, I don’t quite agree with Clark’s view that this is a good article from The Economist

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