Author Topic: NASA Commercial Crew Space Transportation Services: RFI for Round 2  (Read 48178 times)

Offline DanClemmensen

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0% chance SpaceX offers Starship imo. I'm more interested in how Boeing will position a Round 2 bid before even being operational for the Round 1 contract. Hoping DC-Crew could sneak into this...

Maybe Starship for Round 3 if ISS goes to 2030. But I doubt it. It would be like driving a Mack Truck to pick up some half & half at the corner market. :D
It's ten times cheaper to drive the Mack Truck than it is to drive the horse-drawn buggy. Not only is the diesel fuel cheaper than oats, keeping a horse between trips is an expensive proposition.

Offline Cherokee43v6

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SpaceX wants to land Starship at the pad just like Super Heavy.

no, it doesn't

Wrong, you haven't been paying attention.

Actually, for manned flights, I'm siding with Jim.  After-all, there will not be a catch tower on the Moon or Mars.  So landing legs will be a given for manned Starships.

But I also agree that it is too soon to be putting forward Starship for this RFI.  They will need to build up a significant, successful flight history flying cargo to establish the safety parameters, since they prefer the iterative method to the documentary method of development.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
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Offline RonM

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SpaceX wants to land Starship at the pad just like Super Heavy.

no, it doesn't

Wrong, you haven't been paying attention.

Actually, for manned flights, I'm siding with Jim.  After-all, there will not be a catch tower on the Moon or Mars.  So landing legs will be a given for manned Starships.

But I also agree that it is too soon to be putting forward Starship for this RFI.  They will need to build up a significant, successful flight history flying cargo to establish the safety parameters, since they prefer the iterative method to the documentary method of development.

That's why I brought it up. Landing cargo Starship like Super Heavy might be okay, but no way is that going to pass for this RFI.

Online Steven Pietrobon

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I am assuming that both of these figures are for the specific engines in question (RVacs and Sea level Raptors).

The acceleration values I gave are for all six engines firing, where I am assuming that flow separation is not a problem for the vacuum engines when operating in the atmosphere.

The abort modes being discussed are not realistic if Starship can't get back to the launch pad.

With a full load of propellant, Starship would should have no problem returning to the pad for a late first stage abort. During the second stage burn, an abort back to the pad will not be possible and Starship could end up in the drink, tip over and explode.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline woods170

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I am assuming that both of these figures are for the specific engines in question (RVacs and Sea level Raptors).

The acceleration values I gave are for all six engines firing, where I am assuming that flow separation is not a problem for the vacuum engines when operating in the atmosphere.

The abort modes being discussed are not realistic if Starship can't get back to the launch pad.

With a full load of propellant, Starship would should have no problem returning to the pad for a late first stage abort. During the second stage burn, an abort back to the pad will not be possible and Starship could end up in the drink, tip over and explode.

Basically no different from a jetliner losing its engines while crossing the Atlantic and ending up in the drink with 200+ dead.

Think that is unrealistic? Unfortunately it is not. But it is accepted, because passenger jetliners in general have become highly reliable.
Crewed spacecraft will eventually go the same way IMO. There is no practical way to have launch abort systems on a reusable system that carries dozens, or even hundreds, of people on board. The obvious solution is to make the transportation system as reliable as possible.
Current Starship is just a very early step into that direction.

As such I don't think SpaceX will offer Starship for this RFI. It is complete overkill. And SpaceX knows that Starship in current form is still a long way from the required reliability figures to do without a LAS.

Offline su27k

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I am assuming that both of these figures are for the specific engines in question (RVacs and Sea level Raptors).

The acceleration values I gave are for all six engines firing, where I am assuming that flow separation is not a problem for the vacuum engines when operating in the atmosphere.

The abort modes being discussed are not realistic if Starship can't get back to the launch pad.

With a full load of propellant, Starship would should have no problem returning to the pad for a late first stage abort. During the second stage burn, an abort back to the pad will not be possible and Starship could end up in the drink, tip over and explode.

Note Musk mused multiple times whether to add more engines to Starship, at one time specifically in answer to the launch escape TWR question.

As for abort landing, I'm not convinced emergency landing in the ocean will end up in explosion, we have seen multiple times Falcon 9 booster survives water landing intact. Also if necessary emergency landing pads in other part of the world can be arranged, after all that's how Shuttle and Dream Chaser abort is supposed to work.

Offline yg1968

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I am assuming that both of these figures are for the specific engines in question (RVacs and Sea level Raptors).

The acceleration values I gave are for all six engines firing, where I am assuming that flow separation is not a problem for the vacuum engines when operating in the atmosphere.

The abort modes being discussed are not realistic if Starship can't get back to the launch pad.

With a full load of propellant, Starship would should have no problem returning to the pad for a late first stage abort. During the second stage burn, an abort back to the pad will not be possible and Starship could end up in the drink, tip over and explode.

Basically no different from a jetliner losing its engines while crossing the Atlantic and ending up in the drink with 200+ dead.

Think that is unrealistic? Unfortunately it is not. But it is accepted, because passenger jetliners in general have become highly reliable.
Crewed spacecraft will eventually go the same way IMO. There is no practical way to have launch abort systems on a reusable system that carries dozens, or even hundreds, of people on board. The obvious solution is to make the transportation system as reliable as possible.
Current Starship is just a very early step into that direction.

As such I don't think SpaceX will offer Starship for this RFI. It is complete overkill. And SpaceX knows that Starship in current form is still a long way from the required reliability figures to do without a LAS.

The issue isn't so much this RFI which deals with transportation to the ISS, the issue is that if you are not certified, you [NASA] can't use that system for Commercial LEO destinations either.

P.S. Edit: added NASA for the reasons explained in the post below.
« Last Edit: 11/18/2021 07:03 pm by yg1968 »

Offline woods170

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I am assuming that both of these figures are for the specific engines in question (RVacs and Sea level Raptors).

The acceleration values I gave are for all six engines firing, where I am assuming that flow separation is not a problem for the vacuum engines when operating in the atmosphere.

The abort modes being discussed are not realistic if Starship can't get back to the launch pad.

With a full load of propellant, Starship would should have no problem returning to the pad for a late first stage abort. During the second stage burn, an abort back to the pad will not be possible and Starship could end up in the drink, tip over and explode.

Basically no different from a jetliner losing its engines while crossing the Atlantic and ending up in the drink with 200+ dead.

Think that is unrealistic? Unfortunately it is not. But it is accepted, because passenger jetliners in general have become highly reliable.
Crewed spacecraft will eventually go the same way IMO. There is no practical way to have launch abort systems on a reusable system that carries dozens, or even hundreds, of people on board. The obvious solution is to make the transportation system as reliable as possible.
Current Starship is just a very early step into that direction.

As such I don't think SpaceX will offer Starship for this RFI. It is complete overkill. And SpaceX knows that Starship in current form is still a long way from the required reliability figures to do without a LAS.

The issue isn't so much this RFI which deals with transportation to the ISS, the issue is that if you are not certified, you can't use that system for Commercial LEO destinations either.

No, that is not the complete interpretation.
When not certified, the system cannot be used for NASA missions to Commercial LEO destinations.
However, that does not preclude other, non-NASA, parties from using Starship to fly to Commercial LEO destinations.

It is silly to assume that NASA is going to be the only tennant of Commercial LEO destinations.

Offline yg1968

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I am assuming that both of these figures are for the specific engines in question (RVacs and Sea level Raptors).

The acceleration values I gave are for all six engines firing, where I am assuming that flow separation is not a problem for the vacuum engines when operating in the atmosphere.

The abort modes being discussed are not realistic if Starship can't get back to the launch pad.

With a full load of propellant, Starship would should have no problem returning to the pad for a late first stage abort. During the second stage burn, an abort back to the pad will not be possible and Starship could end up in the drink, tip over and explode.

Basically no different from a jetliner losing its engines while crossing the Atlantic and ending up in the drink with 200+ dead.

Think that is unrealistic? Unfortunately it is not. But it is accepted, because passenger jetliners in general have become highly reliable.
Crewed spacecraft will eventually go the same way IMO. There is no practical way to have launch abort systems on a reusable system that carries dozens, or even hundreds, of people on board. The obvious solution is to make the transportation system as reliable as possible.
Current Starship is just a very early step into that direction.

As such I don't think SpaceX will offer Starship for this RFI. It is complete overkill. And SpaceX knows that Starship in current form is still a long way from the required reliability figures to do without a LAS.

The issue isn't so much this RFI which deals with transportation to the ISS, the issue is that if you are not certified, you can't use that system for Commercial LEO destinations either.

No, that is not the complete interpretation.
When not certified, the system cannot be used for NASA missions to Commercial LEO destinations.
However, that does not preclude other, non-NASA, parties from using Starship to fly to Commercial LEO destinations.

It is silly to assume that NASA is going to be the only tennant of Commercial LEO destinations.

I should have been clearer. I meant that NASA will not allow you to transport NASA astronauts to commercial LEO destinations.

2 missions of 2 astronauts per year may not sound like a huge opportunity but it is a commercial opportunity!
« Last Edit: 11/19/2021 05:07 pm by yg1968 »

Offline DanClemmensen

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I am assuming that both of these figures are for the specific engines in question (RVacs and Sea level Raptors).

The acceleration values I gave are for all six engines firing, where I am assuming that flow separation is not a problem for the vacuum engines when operating in the atmosphere.

The abort modes being discussed are not realistic if Starship can't get back to the launch pad.

With a full load of propellant, Starship would should have no problem returning to the pad for a late first stage abort. During the second stage burn, an abort back to the pad will not be possible and Starship could end up in the drink, tip over and explode.

Basically no different from a jetliner losing its engines while crossing the Atlantic and ending up in the drink with 200+ dead.

Think that is unrealistic? Unfortunately it is not. But it is accepted, because passenger jetliners in general have become highly reliable.
Crewed spacecraft will eventually go the same way IMO. There is no practical way to have launch abort systems on a reusable system that carries dozens, or even hundreds, of people on board. The obvious solution is to make the transportation system as reliable as possible.
Current Starship is just a very early step into that direction.

As such I don't think SpaceX will offer Starship for this RFI. It is complete overkill. And SpaceX knows that Starship in current form is still a long way from the required reliability figures to do without a LAS.
A Starship emergency water landing is different than an airliner ditching. A starship will land vertically at zero velocity, and a Starship is completely sealed, so it will float. We will find out how well it floats if the initial "soft" ocean landing off Hawaii is successful.

Offline yg1968

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The deadline for responding to the RFI was yesterday. Presumably, NASA will come out with a RFP in the next few weeks.

Offline deadman1204

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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.
Adding a third means hundreds of millions of dollars from the NASA budget. I would be a little surprised if NASA does support a third option.

Offline yg1968

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NASA to Secure Additional Commercial Crew Transportation:
https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/2021/12/03/nasa-to-secure-additional-commercial-crew-transportation/

Quote from: NASA's blog
NASA intends to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX to acquire up to three additional crew flights to the International Space Station as part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract.

Quote from: NASA's Notice
NASA Kennedy Space Center intends to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX under the authority of FAR 6.302-1 to acquire up to three Post Certification Missions (PCMs) under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract NNK14MA74C in order to enable NASA to meet its mission requirements to maintain crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and to meet obligations under agreements with its International Partners. [...]

Award of up to three additional PCMs to SpaceX with the first launch beginning as early as 2023 is necessary to meet this objective. [...]

Due to technical issues and the resulting delays experienced by Boeing, it is expected that SpaceX will launch its last PCM in March 2023. Awarding up to three additional PCMs to SpaceX will enable NASA to have redundant and back-up capabilities for each PCM [...].

https://sam.gov/opp/c4e1243132fa417bb40829eaf10fe509/view

The sole-source authority under FAR is the following:
https://www.acquisition.gov/far/6.302-1

https://twitter.com/Commercial_Crew/status/1466895689770807299
« Last Edit: 12/03/2021 10:22 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Concerning CCSTS, NASA has this to say about it:

Quote from: NASA
FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY: An RFI was posted on October 20, 2021, requesting information from industry to help NASA formulate an acquisition approach for the procurement of additional PCMs. Responses to the October 20, 2021, RFI will be used to inform NASA’s planning for an acquisition approach.

https://sam.gov/opp/c4e1243132fa417bb40829eaf10fe509/view

Presumably, this means that CCSTS isn't dead.
« Last Edit: 12/03/2021 10:19 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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It seems that NASA still plans to go ahead with CCSTS, 3 additional Crew Dragon would bring it to 2026 (one new crew Dragon in 2024, one in 2025 and one in 2026), the new systems under CCSTS are supposed to be ready for 2027. NASA has mentioned in press conferences that it still intends to alternate between SpaceX and Boeing, once Boeing is ready.
« Last Edit: 12/03/2021 10:18 pm by yg1968 »

Offline DanClemmensen

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It seems that NASA still plans to go ahead with CCSTS, 3 additional Crew Dragon would bring it to 2026 (one crew Dragon in 2024, one in 2025 and one in 2026), the new systems are supposed to be ready for 2027.
Maybe. The announcement says "beginning as early as 2023". It all depends on when Starliner can begin doing one mission per year. If Starliner slips even further or is abandoned, These three new Crew Dragon missions only get you another 18 months, and NASA will need to buy some more. There are four Crew Dragon capsules and another one under construction. Six missions have been flown. If they can fly five times each, then nineteen missions remain. That's enough for the six remaining missions of the nine contracted to NASA plus an additional thirteen for more CCP flights and for non-CCP flights. Even without Starliner, this should suffice until Starship becomes crew certified.

Offline yg1968

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It seems that NASA still plans to go ahead with CCSTS, 3 additional Crew Dragon would bring it to 2026 (one crew Dragon in 2024, one in 2025 and one in 2026), the new systems are supposed to be ready for 2027.
Maybe. The announcement says "beginning as early as 2023". It all depends on when Starliner can begin doing one mission per year. If Starliner slips even further or is abandoned, These three new Crew Dragon missions only get you another 18 months, and NASA will need to buy some more. There are four Crew Dragon capsules and another one under construction. Six missions have been flown. If they can fly five times each, then nineteen missions remain. That's enough for the six remaining missions of the nine contracted to NASA plus an additional thirteen for more CCP flights and for non-CCP flights. Even without Starliner, this should suffice until Starship becomes crew certified.

Yes, I agree. That is why I think that NASA will press on with CCSTS as quickly as possible for the post-certification missions after these three new ones.

Offline Robotical

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Is there any reason for a hard cap of five flights each, or do they just need to be recertified?

Offline DanClemmensen

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Is there any reason for a hard cap of five flights each, or do they just need to be recertified?

The number five stuck in my head from something I read two months ago or so, but my memory isn't very good. Unless the number five is too high, it really doesn't matter. A Starship mission will be cheaper because of the Crew Dragon refurbishment costs, so Crew Dragon will retire except for any missions that are already contracted. And of course I couldn't possibly make any mistakes whatsoever with these predictions.  :D

Offline yg1968

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Is there any reason for a hard cap of five flights each, or do they just need to be recertified?

The number five stuck in my head from something I read two months ago or so, but my memory isn't very good. Unless the number five is too high, it really doesn't matter. A Starship mission will be cheaper because of the Crew Dragon refurbishment costs, so Crew Dragon will retire except for any missions that are already contracted. And of course I couldn't possibly make any mistakes whatsoever with these predictions.  :D

Yes, 5 was mentioned during a recent press conference.

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