I actually agree that is a good way forward. It does presuppose however that the non-chosen company wishes to continue. I would hope that they do so choose. If the commercial HSF program grows, all three will be needed. It would be a shame to see one or two fold up because they weren't chosen. They have all come so far, and I know that all three do have the financial where-with-all to continue without NASA funding.
IRL none of these companies will fold if they lose NASA funding for this programme. Wheather they would choose
to continue to go to a full build is a different matter. I think it's pretty clear SpaceX would, SNC might and Boeing (given their business plan rating for other business) probably not.
Beyond that things get murky.
be argued if you can only fund 1 then that should be Boeing, as they have had the most full awards and are least likely to continue on their own funding.
The real question would be how much progress to their final vehicle has each entrant actually
If Boeing were 1st on the scoring that would be fair enough (but since they've flown nothing
so far it seems unlikely) but they seem to have run a deeply
political programme. Hiring space at the OPF and then saying "Oh if we don't win we walk and anyone we hired goes straight out the door" is basically taking hostages. If you're not sure you can afford the space, why hire it to begin with?
In soccer that's called "Playing the man, not the ball."
I also think the programme has shown the benefits of competition to deliver advanced systems on a tight timescale if
suitably funded. Let's keep in mind it's the decisions of congress
that have pushed the 1st launch date so far back.
SNC has come from a company with (AFAIK) no
experience of building a whole flight vehicle to flight testing and (so far) partial build of the first composite crewed lifting body reusable spacecraft.
on 1/2 the awards of the mainstream proposals.
I just like to remind people that for this generation of space engineers that's about as innovative as it's possible to be.
However that late substitution of the Orbitec engine is a bit worrying.
If there's anything the study of engineering programmes teaches it's that late design changes to a well developed design usually cause a lot of trouble unless
(like adding the 5th engine in the Saturn V booster stage) allowances were made for them in the original
design (by ensuring the load bearing structures have enough margin to accommodate it for example).
Rocket engines are not
plug-n-play. It's highly probable the new design will give better Isp than the hybrid design but the hybrid design has racked lots
of test time by now. Lack of test time on a stand is the sort of thing that is likely to make NASA very
twitchy. People may feel their behavior is a little excessive on this subject but they are
the customer (in this instance).
Personally I'd leave the the Orbitec engine tech for a "Dream Chaser 2.0" but I'll hope SNC are able to allay any concerns NASA has and wish them well.
I hope that NASA can support 2 fully funded spacecraft.
And here is where the US members of nasaspaceflight can help make it happen......
Call the office of your Representative and Senator and ask to speak to the staffer who deals with space matters.
Ask them if they are aware of CCtCap and if not outline what it's about.
Tell them you support it's goals and express your concerns that it needs to be fully funded for at least two winners to ensure crewed access to the ISS for the US (who after all built it) in case of problems with the lead design.
Ask them what their bosses views are on this.
I've refrained from going into details on the approach because that would make it look like an organized pressure group with a script, so if you don't feel you know enough details look them up.
It's your station, your astronauts access to it and your taxes that go to Russia to pay for the (current) tickets.
Does this not seem worth a small investment of your time?