Author Topic: Commercial LEO Destinations Development  (Read 70886 times)

Offline yg1968

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Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« on: 03/27/2021 02:19 pm »
This news was posted in the ISS commercialization thread but it deserves its own thread since the Commercial LEO Destinations habitats do not have to be attached to the ISS since they are free-flying stations:

https://www.nasa.gov/leo-economy/strategy-for-commercial-leo-destinations/
https://www.nasa.gov/jsc/procurement/cld
https://sam.gov/opp/fef26ff78696486aa17c05d8208fd156/view

See the prior discussion on this announcement in the ISS Commercialization thread:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=48301.msg2209657#msg2209657

Attached are the Industry Day Slides.

Here is the link to the announcement (solicitation):
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=53450.msg2279781#msg2279781

Source selection statement for phase 1:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=53450.msg2335326#msg2335326

Certification white paper:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=53450.msg2366132#msg2366132
« Last Edit: 10/17/2022 04:13 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #1 on: 03/27/2021 02:20 pm »
Interesting that SpaceX is among the companies interested in the upcoming commercial LEO free flying habitats procurement:

https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1375799375742525440
« Last Edit: 03/27/2021 02:32 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #2 on: 03/27/2021 02:27 pm »
As mentioned below, this procurement seems to be a replacement for the NextStep Appendix K,  Free-Flyer program.

Quote from: NASA
On March 23, 2021, NASA announced its updated acquisition plan to ensure continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit through the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) project. NASA is no longer pursing NextSTEP Appendix K.

https://www.nasa.gov/nextstep/freeflyer
« Last Edit: 03/29/2021 01:39 am by yg1968 »

Offline Joseph Peterson

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #3 on: 03/27/2021 08:21 pm »
It doesn't surprise me SpaceX is interested in free flyer contract money.  NG has been demonstrating Cygnus' capability to be used as a free flyer.  Dragon XL is similar to Cygnus and so should be able to offer the same capability.

I'd be remiss to not mention CNBC's lack of love for cargo Dream Chaser.  I know Starliner should enter service sooner but as of right now both are spacecraft that will be available in the near future.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #4 on: 03/28/2021 04:45 am »
DragonXL or just a full Starship.

Or possibly launch a Dragon XL with Starship and recover the whole thing later.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2021 04:46 am by Robotbeat »
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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #5 on: 03/28/2021 09:40 am »
I think SpaceX will built space station in near future anyway. Either by launching Starship then extend it to be a proper space station, or using Starship's cargo volume and reusability to rapidly sends modules and materials to space.
I imagine they can build an orbital garage to shield orbital and HLS type Starships from space radiation and debris in less than a year.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #6 on: 03/28/2021 03:53 pm »
Slides 15 and 25 provides an outline of what NASA's future LEO habitat needs:

Quote from: slide 15 of the Industry Day Presentation
Critical tenets of the acquisition strategy included:

•Alignment with National and Agency guidance and direction
•Supports National and Agency desire to have no gap of US presence
•Provide opportunity for US leadership in LEO
•Focus on key capabilities including continuous US human presence in LEO and continuation of research activities including US National Lab and exploration objectives
•Ensuring competition to drive down costs and provide redundancy
•Enabling maturation of industry capability and NASA requirements prior to committing to fixed-priced services contract

Quote from: slide 25
NASA’S FUTURE LEO NEEDS

•NASA will be refining its post-ISS requirements during Phase 1.  But, at this point, NASA  estimates that we will require 2 crew on-orbit continuously and the ability to perform approximately 200 investigations annually.

•Precise budget estimates for services are not available at this time and it depends on prices established by the Commercial LEO Destination provider(s).  But NASA intends to spend many hundreds of million dollars annually for destination services.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2021 04:00 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #7 on: 03/28/2021 03:58 pm »
DragonXL or just a full Starship.

Or possibly launch a Dragon XL with Starship and recover the whole thing later.

Per slides 15 and 25 of the Industry Day slides (see above), NASA wants a continued presence in LEO. If you were going to recover a Dragon XL, you would have to replace it with another Dragon XL.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2021 04:01 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Joseph Peterson

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #8 on: 03/28/2021 06:31 pm »
DragonXL or just a full Starship.

Or possibly launch a Dragon XL with Starship and recover the whole thing later.

When I brought up Dragon XL I was mostly thinking of the type of free flyer that docks with ISS, gets loaded with microgravity research/manufacturing, detaches, does its thing, reattaches, then is reset to repeat the process.  Dragon XL with its Cygnus-like design is already well suited to winning this type of contract sooner rather than later.  Convincing NASA it is safe to allow a spacecraft as massive as Starship to dock with ISS is something I believe to be easier said than done.  I can see SpaceX writing up a proposal to get feedback but I don't see Starship winning this type of contract until later in the decade. 

I guess a Starship could bring this type of free flyer back for <insert reason> one day.  It's not something I can argue in favor of being useful enough to do in the near future though.

There are other types of free flyers we could also discuss.  For example pre-merger Orbital ATK was proposing Cygnus variants with multiple ports, robot arms, airlocks, basically everything that is needed to recreate ISS's capabilities contained in modules that can dock themselves.  In theory SpaceX could offer Dragon XL versions of those Cygnus variants.  I don't see it happening though.  Instead I think it is far more likely SpaceX will offer Shuttle-in-a-Starship to provide construction support to other companies that want to assemble their own full service stations.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #9 on: 03/29/2021 12:59 am »
DragonXL or just a full Starship.

Or possibly launch a Dragon XL with Starship and recover the whole thing later.

When I brought up Dragon XL I was mostly thinking of the type of free flyer that docks with ISS, gets loaded with microgravity research/manufacturing, detaches, does its thing, reattaches, then is reset to repeat the process.  Dragon XL with its Cygnus-like design is already well suited to winning this type of contract sooner rather than later.  Convincing NASA it is safe to allow a spacecraft as massive as Starship to dock with ISS is something I believe to be easier said than done.  I can see SpaceX writing up a proposal to get feedback but I don't see Starship winning this type of contract until later in the decade. 

I guess a Starship could bring this type of free flyer back for <insert reason> one day.  It's not something I can argue in favor of being useful enough to do in the near future though.

There are other types of free flyers we could also discuss.  For example pre-merger Orbital ATK was proposing Cygnus variants with multiple ports, robot arms, airlocks, basically everything that is needed to recreate ISS's capabilities contained in modules that can dock themselves.  In theory SpaceX could offer Dragon XL versions of those Cygnus variants.  I don't see it happening though.  Instead I think it is far more likely SpaceX will offer Shuttle-in-a-Starship to provide construction support to other companies that want to assemble their own full service stations.

Unlike NextStep Appendix I (which was awarded to Axiom), the free-flying habitat wasn't intended to be docked [attached] to the ISS, it was meant to be free flying.

For the predecessor NextStep Appendix K, NASA had stated the following:

Quote from: Former Appendix K Q&A Document
73.  Question:  May companies propose to go to ISS as part of Appendix K or is that only for Appendix I?

Answer:  Proposals may include an ISS component or activities.  However, the component or activity must be for a short, temporary time-frame and companies may not propose to use the commercial port location of Node 2 Forward—that is for Appendix I.  Any docking or berthing proposals would need to meet ISS Visiting Vehicle requirements.  A clarification of this point will be added to the final version [of] the Appendix K RFP.

Attached are the relevant documents for the former NextStep Appendix K.
« Last Edit: 03/29/2021 02:30 am by yg1968 »

Offline Joseph Peterson

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #10 on: 03/29/2021 01:45 am »

Unlike NextStep Appendix I (which was awarded to Axiom), the free-flying habitat wasn't intended to be docked to the ISS, it was meant to be free flying.

For the predecessor NextStep Appendix K, NASA had stated the following:

Quote from: Appendix K Q&A Document
73.  Question:  May companies propose to go to ISS as part of Appendix K or is that only for Appendix I?

Answer:  Proposals may include an ISS component or activities.  However, the component or activity must be for a short, temporary time-frame and companies may not propose to use the commercial port location of Node 2 Forward—that is for Appendix I.  Any docking or berthing proposals would need to meet ISS Visiting Vehicle requirements.  A clarification of this point will be added to the final version the Appendix K RFP.

If you're trying to argue a free flyer isn't allowed to dock to ISS you'd be better off not citing a source describing which proposals that include docking/berthing are acceptable.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #11 on: 03/29/2021 02:16 am »

Unlike NextStep Appendix I (which was awarded to Axiom), the free-flying habitat wasn't intended to be docked to the ISS, it was meant to be free flying.

For the predecessor NextStep Appendix K, NASA had stated the following:

Quote from: Appendix K Q&A Document
73.  Question:  May companies propose to go to ISS as part of Appendix K or is that only for Appendix I?

Answer:  Proposals may include an ISS component or activities.  However, the component or activity must be for a short, temporary time-frame and companies may not propose to use the commercial port location of Node 2 Forward—that is for Appendix I.  Any docking or berthing proposals would need to meet ISS Visiting Vehicle requirements.  A clarification of this point will be added to the final version the Appendix K RFP.

If you're trying to argue a free flyer isn't allowed to dock to ISS you'd be better off not citing a source describing which proposals that include docking/berthing are acceptable.

I should have been clearer. I meant to say that, unlike the Axiom module, the free flyer wasn't meant to be attached or dependent on the ISS. The free flyer can only dock for a short time per the Q&A document. But companies could decide that they don't want to dock at the ISS at all. Docking to the ISS isn't a requirement. The free flyer is meant to be autonomous from the ISS.
« Last Edit: 03/29/2021 02:33 am by yg1968 »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #12 on: 03/29/2021 02:36 am »
DragonXL or just a full Starship.

Or possibly launch a Dragon XL with Starship and recover the whole thing later.

When I brought up Dragon XL I was mostly thinking of the type of free flyer that docks with ISS, gets loaded with microgravity research/manufacturing, detaches, does its thing, reattaches, then is reset to repeat the process.  Dragon XL with its Cygnus-like design is already well suited to winning this type of contract sooner rather than later.  Convincing NASA it is safe to allow a spacecraft as massive as Starship to dock with ISS is something I believe to be easier said than done.  I can see SpaceX writing up a proposal to get feedback but I don't see Starship winning this type of contract until later in the decade. 

I guess a Starship could bring this type of free flyer back for <insert reason> one day.  It's not something I can argue in favor of being useful enough to do in the near future though.

There are other types of free flyers we could also discuss.  For example pre-merger Orbital ATK was proposing Cygnus variants with multiple ports, robot arms, airlocks, basically everything that is needed to recreate ISS's capabilities contained in modules that can dock themselves.  In theory SpaceX could offer Dragon XL versions of those Cygnus variants.  I don't see it happening though.  Instead I think it is far more likely SpaceX will offer Shuttle-in-a-Starship to provide construction support to other companies that want to assemble their own full service stations.
Yeah, based on what they're describing, they don't want to bring the freeflyer back to Earth for recovery of experiments and refitting.

I brought it up because it's basically what NASA sort of did Shuttle days pre-ISS Spacelab, and Starship is essentially a successor to Shuttle.

Unlike Shuttle, though, SpaceX is happy to make whatever modifications are deemed necessary for the mission at hand. Lunar starship doesn't have any aerosurfaces and is painted white for thermal constraints. And they also proposed a depot variant of Starship (no, NOT a mere tanker, but a depot) to assist in lunar Starship missions as part of their HLS bid.

I definitely don't think SpaceX would shy away from bidding a permanent space station version of Starship. Like lunar Starship, no aerosurfaces, painted white, with crew accomodations, airlocks. But instead of an elevator, extra docking ports and big ol' solar arrays like have been seen on many Starship variants. Supposing Starship gets to orbit successfully, why WOULDN'T NASA take such a bid seriously? Could be a kind of consolation prize if SpaceX loses on HLS (kinda like how NASA threw Dream Chaser a bone when it lost the Commercial Crew bid by bringing on Dream Chaser for commercial cargo).

A beefed-up Dragon XL would work, too, and would be kind of a no-brainer bid, considering it was already picked as a semi-permanent node on Gateway (housing the bathroom, beds, etc) and is based on the only US vehicle with proven autonomous docking capability at ISS (in case being attached to ISS temporarily was a desired feature, i.e. to transfer useful equipment from ISS before ISS goes in the drink).

Or possibly both. Modified Starship as the free-flyer station, with equipment transfered over from ISS using a Dragon XL (with a proven autonomous docking system and more reasonable size... although keep in mind Shuttle was attached to ISS and is about the same size as Starship, so it's not as crazy of an idea as some here suggest).
« Last Edit: 03/29/2021 02:43 am by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #13 on: 03/29/2021 02:40 am »
Suggesting a Starship or Dragon XL as a freeflyer and/or full, continuously-occupied Station is not mere fan-wanking.

SpaceX is one of the (if not THE) most qualified of the bidders, considering Dragon Crew, Dragon Cargo, massive launch and satellite service experience and capability, plus near-future experience with Dragon XL (which was picked for logistics for Gateway... but will be attached and serve as a semi-permanent hab node for a significant length of time in deep space) and Falcon Heavy for launching Gateway and possibly Starship for HLS, etc.
« Last Edit: 03/29/2021 02:41 am by Robotbeat »
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Joseph Peterson

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #14 on: 03/29/2021 02:49 am »
I didn't say that it wasn't allowed to dock, I said that it wasn't meant to be docked to the ISS (full-time) unlike the Axiom module. The free flyer can only dock for a short time per the Q&A document. But companies could decide that they don't want to dock at the ISS at all. Docking to the ISS isn't a requirement. The free flyer is meant to be autonomous from the ISS.

OK, but I wasn't talking about Axiom's module station core construction plan.  I don't know why you replied to me because I'm trying to talk about free flyers.

Aside:  I haven't been able to find the Axiom thread.  If someone can point me in the right direction so I can read and talk about Axiom in the appropriate thread I'd greatly appreciate it.

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #15 on: 03/29/2021 03:14 am »
Cygnus type free flyer would be better suited to unmanned experiments and manufacturing. Use crew vehicle to service it on occassion, with robotic vehicles doing regular visits. Leave it in orbit close to ISS so crew vehicle can visit freeflyer on its way to or from ISS.

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Offline Solarsail

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #16 on: 03/29/2021 03:15 am »
(...)

Aside:  I haven't been able to find the Axiom thread.  If someone can point me in the right direction so I can read and talk about Axiom in the appropriate thread I'd greatly appreciate it.

The Axiom thread: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40601.0
(It hadn't actually fallen off of page 1 of this board yet)

Offline sdsds

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #17 on: 03/29/2021 03:30 am »
Just blue sky thinking: does the habitable volume of two Dragon XL vehicles docked nose-to-nose allow the kind of science, etc. that NASA envisions doing after ISS is retired?
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Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #18 on: 03/29/2021 03:31 am »
See below:

Under the former NextStep Appendix K, Free Flyer solicitation, it is interesting to note that NASA had indicated that CRS2 services would not be provided for the free flyer:

Quote from: Former Appendix K Q&A
43.  Question: CRS2 services, do we assume that's available for the FF [Free Flyer]?

Answer: No, contracted CRS2 services are specific to Station deliverables. [...]


62.  Question: Is it reasonable to provide both a habitation and transportation solution?

Answer: Proposals should include the full technical approach and business case to demonstrate commercial FF [Free Flyer] viability.

SpaceX could therefore decide to use Starship or Dragon2 to bring cargo up and down to its free flyer.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial LEO Destinations Development
« Reply #19 on: 03/29/2021 03:34 am »
I didn't say that it wasn't allowed to dock, I said that it wasn't meant to be docked to the ISS (full-time) unlike the Axiom module. The free flyer can only dock for a short time per the Q&A document. But companies could decide that they don't want to dock at the ISS at all. Docking to the ISS isn't a requirement. The free flyer is meant to be autonomous from the ISS.

OK, but I wasn't talking about Axiom's module station core construction plan.  I don't know why you replied to me because I'm trying to talk about free flyers.

Aside:  I haven't been able to find the Axiom thread.  If someone can point me in the right direction so I can read and talk about Axiom in the appropriate thread I'd greatly appreciate it.

Because, you said that Starship couldn't easily dock to the ISS and my point is that the free flyer doesn't need to dock with the ISS.

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