Author Topic: NASA Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services: RFI for Round 2  (Read 55489 times)

Offline soltasto

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The RFI for the NASA Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services has been posted:

https://sam.gov/opp/3ae9296c494a4e3698c7fbc01865b764/view

After years of development, commercial human space transportation systems have achieved or are nearing operational readiness.  NASA recognizes the significant advancement of the commercial spaceflight industry and requests information on the availability of existing NASA certified capabilities, estimated timelines on the availability of future capabilities to be certified by NASA, and whether commercial services are available for crewed space transportation services delivering NASA and International Partner astronauts to and returning them from the ISS.  Responses to this RFI will be used to inform NASA’s planning for an acquisition approach for Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services.

NASA anticipates continued ongoing operations of the ISS beyond 2024.  To provide for these needs and contingencies, NASA has determined a need to acquire additional Post-Certification Missions to meet its obligations to assure crewed access to the International Space Station.

NASA is considering acquisition of Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services from one or more U.S. providers through commercial services contracts. Depending on mission requirements, NASA may purchase single seats, multiple seats within one mission, or seats for an entire mission.  NASA is seeking pertinent information from industry which may be used to formulate one or more solicitations related to the Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services effort.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2021 08:41 pm by soltasto »

Online Comga

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Re: NASA Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services
« Reply #1 on: 10/20/2021 08:32 pm »
Quote
...one or more U.S. providers ..
One aspect of particular interest is whether NASA awards more flights to Boeing before Starliner is certified,  before CFT-1 flies, or even before OFT-2 flies.
That will say a lot about the level of Boeing's "pull" at this point, particularly compared to the last time Boeing CC program got extra money for their fixed price contract.

It would make some sense to award SpaceX as many additional crew flights as they have flown, such as 4 if awarded next summer, to keep the backlog for both suppliers equal.
Or they could contract for as many Dragon flights as they can while bidding is competitive. ;)

PS  A more descriptive thread title might be something like "Commercial Crew: RFI for Round 2"
There are many existing threads on just CCSTS.
« Last Edit: 10/20/2021 08:37 pm by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online gongora

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We'll see what the RFP ends up saying.  For the RFI they mention systems that could be certified by 2027 (I guess that's for the situation of the ISS being extended to 2030).  Realistically they will need to give SpaceX additional missions.  I would guess they try to do something more like the cargo program where it's IDIQ instead of a fixed number of flights so that they pick SpaceX and Boeing to provide flights as needed.  Whether they can add a new provider might depend on whether they can get funding to pay for development of another system.

Offline joek

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We'll see what the RFP ends up saying.  For the RFI they mention systems that could be certified by 2027 (I guess that's for the situation of the ISS being extended to 2030).  Realistically they will need to give SpaceX additional missions.  I would guess they try to do something more like the cargo program where it's IDIQ instead of a fixed number of flights so that they pick SpaceX and Boeing to provide flights as needed.  Whether they can add a new provider might depend on whether they can get funding to pay for development of another system.

CCtCap post-certification missions are IDIQ, with minimum of 6 missions. IDIQ contracts require minimum and and maximum order quantities. We know the minimum (6), which believe has been exercised for both Boeing and SpaceX. Additional flights would require extension to existing contract. That is very different than on-ramp for additional providers.

Offline yg1968

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We'll see what the RFP ends up saying.  For the RFI they mention systems that could be certified by 2027 (I guess that's for the situation of the ISS being extended to 2030).  Realistically they will need to give SpaceX additional missions.  I would guess they try to do something more like the cargo program where it's IDIQ instead of a fixed number of flights so that they pick SpaceX and Boeing to provide flights as needed.  Whether they can add a new provider might depend on whether they can get funding to pay for development of another system.

CCtCap post-certification missions are IDIQ, with minimum of 6 missions. IDIQ contracts require minimum and and maximum order quantities. We know the minimum (6), which believe has been exercised for both Boeing and SpaceX. Additional flights would require extension to existing contract. That is very different than on-ramp for additional providers.

This RFI confirms my belief that CCtCap cannot be extended to more than 6 post certification missions for each provider, per the terms of the CCtCap RFP (see the quote at the bottom of this post).

NASA decided instead to have a new solicitation (the Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services) in order to get new post-certification missions past the twelve that NASA already has with SpaceX and Boeing.

Interestingly, this contract offers the possibility of adding new commercial crew providers (Dream Chaser and Blue Origin) but only if they can be certified by 2027. It seems that NASA is even open to paying some funding for development/certification for these new entrants. Of course, existing providers (Boeing and SpaceX) would not receive funding for development of their spacecraft and would be expected to be ready before 2027. 

Quote from: RFI
Information about the maturity of crew transportation systems that are still under design and/or development.  Specifically, identify: the level of maturity of the crew transportation system (e.g., how much testing has been performed, what type of testing remains, etc.); the remaining activities planned to complete the system to be compliant with NASA requirements; and, generally, the resources required to mature the system so that a NASA certification could be accomplished no later than 2027. Details on whether Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services can be considered “commercial services,” as defined by FAR Part 2.
     

Quote from: NASA
“NASA has a need for additional crew rotation flights to the space station beyond the twelve missions the agency has awarded Boeing and SpaceX under the current contracts,” said Phil McAlister, director of the commercial spaceflight division at NASA Headquarters. “Commercial crew transportation services are going to be needed into the foreseeable future, and we want to maintain competition, provide assured access to space on U.S. human launch systems and continue to enable a low-Earth orbit economy.”

With the continued advancement on U.S. human spaceflight, NASA is soliciting information on the availability of existing agency certified crew systems and estimated timelines on the availability of future systems capable of accomplishing certification no later than 2027.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-requests-information-for-american-crew-transportation-to-space-station

Quote from: CCtCap RFP
The maximum potential number of Post Certification Missions which may be ordered under this contract is six (6).
« Last Edit: 10/21/2021 10:39 pm by yg1968 »

Offline butters

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Isn't Axiom going to be selecting the NASA-certified transportation provider for half or more of crewed missions to the ISS? So the providers for Round 2 are bidding for a predetermined number of NASA missions and the eligibility to compete for Axiom missions. Catering to Axiom's preferences may be essential for any new entrant to justify the investment.

This is going to be a very interesting transition period as the ISS lives out its final years mated to its commercial replacement. I trust that Mike Suffredini will not want to make this any more awkward than it has to be, but Axiom is the biggest stakeholder in having more transportation providers and less of a pronounced price differential between providers in the next round. NASA has what they need both operationally and politically with their current pair of providers. A third provider that costs Starliner money doesn't really do much for Axiom, and that might affect how prospective bidders approach this solicitation.

Offline yg1968

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Isn't Axiom going to be selecting the NASA-certified transportation provider for half or more of crewed missions to the ISS? So the providers for Round 2 are bidding for a predetermined number of NASA missions and the eligibility to compete for Axiom missions. Catering to Axiom's preferences may be essential for any new entrant to justify the investment.

This is going to be a very interesting transition period as the ISS lives out its final years mated to its commercial replacement. I trust that Mike Suffredini will not want to make this any more awkward than it has to be, but Axiom is the biggest stakeholder in having more transportation providers and less of a pronounced price differential between providers in the next round. NASA has what they need both operationally and politically with their current pair of providers. A third provider that costs Starliner money doesn't really do much for Axiom, and that might affect how prospective bidders approach this solicitation.

For the time being the Axiom module would be attached to the ISS, so NASA would probably use its own transportation arrangements to the ISS.

For free-flying commercial LEO habitats, the habitat provider would choose the transportation system but it would have to be a NASA certified system in order to transport NASA astronauts.
« Last Edit: 10/21/2021 02:41 pm by yg1968 »

Offline docmordrid

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Isn't Axiom going to be selecting the NASA-certified transportation provider for half or more of crewed missions to the ISS?
>

Axiom AX 1-4 are already manifested on Crew Dragon.
DM

Online gongora

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Axiom is hiring vehicles for their own use, not on behalf of NASA.

CCtCap post-certification missions are IDIQ, with minimum of 6 missions. IDIQ contracts require minimum and and maximum order quantities. We know the minimum (6), which believe has been exercised for both Boeing and SpaceX. Additional flights would require extension to existing contract. That is very different than on-ramp for additional providers.

CCtCap is maximum 6 missions, not minimum.  The cargo contracts have maximum dollar value, not number of missions.

Offline russianhalo117

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Axiom is hiring vehicles for their own use, not on behalf of NASA.

CCtCap post-certification missions are IDIQ, with minimum of 6 missions. IDIQ contracts require minimum and and maximum order quantities. We know the minimum (6), which believe has been exercised for both Boeing and SpaceX. Additional flights would require extension to existing contract. That is very different than on-ramp for additional providers.

CCtCap is maximum 6 missions, not minimum.  The cargo contracts have maximum dollar value, not number of missions.
Like CRS a follow on programme phase RFP/RFI would be the most likely plan forward.

Offline Cherokee43v6

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NASA recognizes the significant advancement of the commercial spaceflight industry and requests information on the availability of existing NASA certified capabilities, estimated timelines on the availability of future capabilities to be certified by NASA, and whether commercial services are available for crewed space transportation services delivering NASA and International Partner astronauts to and returning them from the ISS.

The bolded part above is what interests me about this.  Currently I can think of only two that are actively in the running with a possible third.

1) Dreamchaser Crew
2) Starship

with the third being the Blue Origin 'biconic' design from the early commercial crew development stages.

Can anyone think of any others that might be considered 'near term' options?
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline yg1968

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Axiom is hiring vehicles for their own use, not on behalf of NASA.

CCtCap post-certification missions are IDIQ, with minimum of 6 missions. IDIQ contracts require minimum and and maximum order quantities. We know the minimum (6), which believe has been exercised for both Boeing and SpaceX. Additional flights would require extension to existing contract. That is very different than on-ramp for additional providers.

CCtCap is maximum 6 missions, not minimum.  The cargo contracts have maximum dollar value, not number of missions.
Like CRS a follow on programme phase RFP/RFI would be the most likely plan forward.

That's what this RFI is about. It's the next phase and it's not an extension of CCtCap. 

I have attached the RFI to this post.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2021 01:36 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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NASA recognizes the significant advancement of the commercial spaceflight industry and requests information on the availability of existing NASA certified capabilities, estimated timelines on the availability of future capabilities to be certified by NASA, and whether commercial services are available for crewed space transportation services delivering NASA and International Partner astronauts to and returning them from the ISS.

The bolded part above is what interests me about this.  Currently I can think of only two that are actively in the running with a possible third.

1) Dreamchaser Crew
2) Starship

with the third being the Blue Origin 'biconic' design from the early commercial crew development stages.

Can anyone think of any others that might be considered 'near term' options?

You have already mentioned it but Blue Origin was working on a biconic capsule for CCDev2. LC-36 is human rated.
« Last Edit: 10/21/2021 02:42 am by yg1968 »

Will SpaceX be allowed to bid F9/Dragon as a backup until Starship certified? 

Online kevinof

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Sure. And I've said before, Dragon isn't going away anytime soon. Expect to see it around into the late 20s and maybe beyond. I've no doubt it's the current front runner for any new contract (it was/is cheaper and it's been flying with NASA).

Will SpaceX be allowed to bid F9/Dragon as a backup until Starship certified?

Offline su27k

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Will SpaceX be allowed to bid F9/Dragon as a backup until Starship certified?

If there's no development dollars, there's no point to propose Starship right now, they can ask NASA to add Starship to the contract later, after it's ready, using the IDIQ On-Ramp clause.

Offline yg1968

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Will SpaceX be allowed to bid F9/Dragon as a backup until Starship certified?

If there's no development dollars, there's no point to propose Starship right now, they can ask NASA to add Starship to the contract later, after it's ready, using the IDIQ On-Ramp clause.

The on-ramp clause is for new entrants, SpaceX wouldn't be a new entrant. This contract only covers transportation to the ISS (see the quote below) and I don't think that NASA needs that many new missions until the end of ISS in 2030. However, getting Starship certified might be a good idea for the commercial LEO habitats, so it might be a good idea for SpaceX to propose both crew Dragon and Starship for this contract.

As stated above, NASA is considering also putting some development funding in this phase (CCSTS) for new spacecrafts but they have to be ready by 2027.

Quote from: NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is hereby soliciting information from potential sources for Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services to and from the International Space Station.
« Last Edit: 10/21/2021 01:46 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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In case it wasn't obvious, I really like what NASA is trying to do with this next round. I really like that NASA is encouraging certification of new systems. Phil McAlister has been doing an excellent job.

Offline abaddon

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In case it wasn't obvious, I really like what NASA is trying to do with this next round. I really like that NASA is encouraging certification of new systems. Phil McAlister has been doing an excellent job.
I don't think it's bad or anything, but it's not going to matter, we'll just see Dragon and Starliner selected again.  I do think it is good to reinforce the process/expectation for the future, though.
« Last Edit: 10/21/2021 02:41 pm by abaddon »

Offline yg1968

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In case it wasn't obvious, I really like what NASA is trying to do with this next round. I really like that NASA is encouraging certification of new systems. Phil McAlister has been doing an excellent job.
I don't think it's bad or anything, but it's not going to matter, we'll just see Dragon and Starliner selected again.  I do think it is good to reinforce the process/expectation for the future, though.

I wouldn't be surprised if a third spacecraft is added. Given that there is no minimum amount of missions, it wouldn't be a huge risks for NASA to add a provider. I guess that it depends on how much money SNC, Blue or SpaceX with Starship would ask NASA for certifying their systems.
« Last Edit: 10/21/2021 03:08 pm by yg1968 »

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