Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Space Travel News .




LAUNCH PAD
NASA says competition is key to private space race
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 17, 2012


Competition is vital to the race among private companies to replace the space shuttle, NASA said Thursday, after Congress called for the US space agency to fund a single company.

"We believe that competition is key to accelerating this program," said NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver in a conference call with reporters.

"We are ushering in a new era that embraces the innovation of the private sector along with the importance of what we do here in the government."

The renewed debate over how to quickly restore US access to the International Space Station following the shuttle's retirement comes as California-based SpaceX is preparing for its first cargo test flight to the orbiting lab on Saturday.

But with plans for a crew-capable spacecraft not expected before the 2015-2017 timeframe, and NASA pouring hundreds of millions of dollars in seed money into four private companies, some lawmakers have urged a narrower process.

The House of Representatives last week passed a bill that calls on NASA to make an immediate choice of one company for the commercial crew funding it plans to distribute later this year, expected to be around $500 million.

Last year, NASA's Commercial Crew Development program gave nearly $270 million to four companies: Blue Origin ($22 million), Boeing ($92.3 million), SpaceX ($75 million), and Sierra Nevada ($80 million).

Congressman Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA's budget, said last week the current approach "runs a high risk of failure" by funding numerous companies.

The scheme makes it likely to leave the "taxpayer with no tangible benefits in exchange for a substantial investment," he added.

The Senate would have to approve the bill for it to take effect, but NASA bristled at the suggestion that less competition would be more cost-effective.

"Obviously, while we believe in competition, we recognize that we are to the point now where we want to have the most realistic and the best chance of success at meeting our goals to be transporting astronauts to the International Space Station as soon as possible," Garver said.

When awards are decided on this year, NASA hoped the selection would allow that "to happen in the very soonest timeframe while keeping some competition," she added.

SpaceX is clearly in the lead among its competitors. Its upcoming cargo test flight uses the Dragon space capsule that is also built to carry up to seven crew.

Sierra Nevada is also poised to start localized tests of its Dream Chaser vehicle this month. And Orbital Sciences Corporation, which has a separate contract with NASA for cargo missions to the ISS, is expected to do a test launch later this year.

"The first to market doesn't always win either so there are a lot of interesting times ahead," said Jeff Greason, president of XCOR Aerospace and an executive committee member of the Commercial SpaceFlight Federation.

Greason lamented the high cost of paying Russia $63 million dollars a seat so US astronauts can hitch a ride to the ISS, a cost that the United States began paying once the 30-year space shuttle program ended in 2011.

"Relying on the Soyuz or any sole system as the only means of transport to the ISS isn't wise. The Soyuz has been a great spacecraft but the Russians are not immune to hardware problems," he said.

Former NASA astronaut and president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation Michael Lopez-Alegria said that reducing competition now would raise prices, not lower them.

"Once you get out of the competition phase, you start getting into monopoly pricing and not only is it going to cost more but it is going to take longer," he told reporters.

"So we need to resist the temptation of saying, 'If we want to have it sooner we should just throw money at less companies because they'll have more money to go faster.' That is not the path to success."

In the meantime, Lopez-Alegria said he and many others will be closely watching SpaceX's cargo attempt, scheduled to lift off Saturday at 4:55 am (0855 GMT).

"It is by all accounts an important step, bordering on a giant leap for commercial spaceflight," he said.

"Although SpaceX's efforts are in today's spotlight, they are but one player on a team that is fully engaged in reducing the cost of access to space for people and payloads."

.


Related Links
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





LAUNCH PAD
Japan enters commercial space race
Tokyo (AFP) May 16, 2012
Japan will put a commercial satellite into space on Friday, officials said, in its first foray into the European- and Russian-dominated world of contract launches. The H-IIA rocket, which was developed by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and has been launched 20 times since 2001, will carry a South Korean payload, a JAXA official said. The satellite, the KOMPSAT-3, was developed ... read more


LAUNCH PAD
NASA Langley's SCIFLI Team To Take Images Of SpaceX C2 Launch

Japan enters commercial space race

Ariane 5 mission with twin telecommunications satellites approved for launch

NASA says competition is key to private space race

LAUNCH PAD
Opportunity Rolling Again After Fifth Mars Winter

Mojave Desert Tests Prepare for NASA Mars Roving

Mars Opportunity Rover Is A Go For More Travel

WSU air-quality researcher to lead field studies in support of NASA Mars mission

LAUNCH PAD
Perigee "Super Moon" On May 5-6

India's second moon mission Chandrayaan-2 to wait

European Google Lunar X Prize Teams Call For Science Payloads

Russia to Send Manned Mission to Moon by 2030

LAUNCH PAD
Beyond Pluto And Exploring the Kuiper Belt

Uranus auroras glimpsed from Earth

Herschel images extrasolar analogue of the Kuiper Belt

New Horizons on Approach: 22 AU Down, Just 10 to Go

LAUNCH PAD
Cosmic dust rings no guarantee of planets

In search of new 'Earths' beyond our Solar System

Free-floating planets in the Milky Way outnumber stars by factors of thousands

Unseen planet revealed by its gravity

LAUNCH PAD
Ball Aerospace Submits Solar Electric Propulsion Concept to NASA

IRVE-3 Flight Hardware Test

Marshall Completes Wind Tunnel Testing For Dream Chaser Space System

NASA Continues J-2X Powerpack Testing

LAUNCH PAD
Shenzhou 9 to be ready for mid-June launch?

China confirms plans to build own orbital station

Building a Heavenly Palace in outer space

Long March-2F rocket delivered to launch center

LAUNCH PAD
NASA Survey Counts Potentially Hazardous Asteroids

NASA Dawn Spacecraft Reveals Secrets of Large Asteroid

NASA trains astronauts to land on asteroid

Amateur astronomers boost ESA's asteroid hunt




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement