Show Me The Money: NASA Needs $850 Million for Commercial Crew Vehicle Development
October 21, 2011 12:00 PM
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NASA's Lori Garver
NASA urged Congress to provide the full $850 million, because if it is not paid now, the U.S. will be forced to pay the Russians $450 million for every year that the U.S. delays its own commercial crew vehicle starting in 2016
Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator, is pushing for increased funding for NASA's commercial crew vehicle development, or warns that the U.S. will be paying the Russians over the long-term instead.
retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet
throughout 2011 has made U.S. astronauts dependent on Russia to travel to the International Space Station (ISS). The cost per seat for this rendezvous is estimated to increase to $63 million by 2015, and NASA is hoping to have commercial spaceships of its own to avoid having to pay the Russians. NASA is looking to Boeing Co., SpaceX, Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada Corp. for such spacecraft.
But these spacecraft developers will require assistance for the creation of NASA's request. NASA put aside $388 million to support such development, while the agency put forth another $800 million for spacecraft to be
developed by SpaceX
and Orbital Sciences Corp.
But now, NASA is moving on to its next phase of its commercial crew vehicle development, and needs $850 million.
So far, Congress has put aside $312 million in the House and $500 million in the Senate.
Garver urged Congress to provide the full $850 million, because if it is not paid now, the U.S. will be forced to pay the Russians $450 million for every year that the U.S. delays its own commercial crew vehicle starting in 2016.
According to Garver, paying U.S. companies the extra money needed now will outweigh having to pay the Russians $450 million per year in 2016 and beyond, which will obviously benefit the Russian space effort instead of the U.S.
don't end there. Even if Congress comes up with $850 million in 2012, the cost of the commercial crew vehicle development will only increase as time goes on. Garver estimates that NASA will require $6 billion "over five years."
The next step is a hearing for funding the next phase, known as CCDev 3, next Wednesday. It was scheduled by the House Science Space and Technology Committee.
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RE: Just wait...
10/21/2011 2:00:27 PM
Yeah dude, it's called the SLS (Senate Launch System).
Congress tells NASA how to build a frankenstein rocket, then sticks them with a massive $10s of billions bill (that includes the outdated MPCV, which still has yet to fly...), over the next 20 years.
So, $1.5-2.0 billion per launch, one launch per year, 70 metric tons to start (2018, its schedule been 'pushed to the right'), 130 metric tons 5 years later. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy lifts 53 metric tons, but at a fraction of the price-- $125 million is the list price, first launch set around 2014. There's a clear winner to this second, homegrown 'space race'.
Exciting times to be a space buff, regardless! It didn't end with the Shuttle. Things are just getting started.
RE: Just wait...
10/21/2011 3:30:45 PM
In all fairness, we need SLS to go beyond LEO. Even the president of SpaceX has said as much. I agree that SLS looks like a political boondoggle, and its design is partly dictated by politics and where it will be built, and I wish we could start from scratch. The political reality, though, is that we can't, and that even the Falcon 9 Heavy won't be able to lift as much as the SLS will once complete.
This country only develops a new heavy launch system once a generation, if that. If SLS were cancelled now, it could be 20-30 years before we're even discussing going beyond the Earth again. SLS is far from the ideal solution, but in terms of space exploration, it's better than nothing, which is what we'll get if it's cancelled.
RE: Just wait...
10/22/2011 5:34:26 AM
no we dont
multiple launches and assembly in LEO at the ISS mean that any of our current launchers is more than good enough to support missions beyond LEO.
i.e. send a propulsion module, 2-3 fuel tanks (one/two for going and one for coming back, and a habitation module in four delta 4/atlas V/Falcon 9 launches and you willl surpass what 2 SLS launches (as even the SLS is too small to launch everything in one go) will accomplish for 10% of the cost launching one SLS.
if we cancelled the SLS. let the SRB company go bust. and spent 18 billion on developing a modular interplantary space vessel we could be exploring mars by the decades end.
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