Author Topic: Audit of Commercial Resupply Services to the International Space Station  (Read 1238 times)

Offline Coastal Ron

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The NASA Office of Inspector General just released an audit of the Commercial Cargo program:

Audit of Commercial Resupply Services to the International Space Station

Media coverage at SpaceNews:

NASA will pay more for less ISS cargo under new commercial contracts - SpaceNews.com

Everybody takes some pain in this report, and the bottom line is that NASA is paying more $/kg now than it had before. Lots of reasons, but nevertheless costs have gone up.

One bright point, quoting from the SpaceNews article:

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Despite those issues, the report concluded that the CRS and CRS-2 contracts “are positive steps” in establishing reliable cargo transportation needed to support operations of the ISS.

No doubt there are many thoughts about this...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline gongora

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SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon 2 spacecraft aboard its Falcon 9 launch vehicle to deliver up to 3,307 kg of upmass. The Dragon 2 was initially designed for crew missions, but with modifications, the spacecraft can also be used to transport cargo. The vehicle has a pressurized capsule that can carry up to 2,507 kg of upmass and returned downmass along with an external trunk below the capsule that can carry up to 800 kg of additional unpressurized upmass and downmass. For the CRS-2 contract, SpaceX also proposed using the Dragon 1 spacecraft used for its CRS-1 missions, but NASA selected the Dragon 2 due to lower integration costs and per-mission pricing. However, the docking configuration for Dragon 2 has limitations regarding the size of the hatch such that larger items including spacesuits and large cargo bags cannot fit.
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SpaceX’s total upmass capability from Dragon 1 to Dragon 2 did not change but design modifications increased the useable pressurized cargo volume by roughly 30 percent.
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 In February 2017, an operator error induced by using an uncertified software tool caused SpaceX’s 10th CRS-1 mission to abort its planned rendezvous with the ISS before successfully berthing a day later. A subsequent audit conducted by the ISS Program in October 2017 before SpaceX’s 13th mission showed the company had made significant progress in improving their software development processes and mitigating NASA’s concerns
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Additionally, NASA’s concerns about SpaceX systems engineering processes increased after the June 2015 SpX-7 and September 2016 AMOS-6 failures.  Because SpaceX continuously makes changes to its launch vehicle and spacecraft, the company has had more difficulty following industry standard systems engineering principles.  SpaceX has responded to these concerns by providing NASA more insight into its quality control and systems engineering processes.
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For SpX-13, the Agency received contractor in-kind contributions – such as accommodations for external payloads and manifest changes – to reconcile the cost difference between a new and previously flown booster.  For CRS-2, NASA could receive a marginal discount on per-mission pricing if the Agency opts to use a previously flown booster for a mission.
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With respect to restrictions on commerce with certain Russian companies, Orbital ATK cargo deliveries to the ISS have a waiver until the end of 2020 from Federal sanctions laws prohibiting payments to the Russian Federal Space Agency or affiliated companies like Energomash. Should the waiver not be extended, Orbital ATK may not be able to use the Antares 230 for future CRS-2 missions. To help mitigate this risk, Orbital ATK plans to purchase enough RD-181 engines in 2018 to complete missions through the fourth CRS-2 flight. The company is also considering using the Vulcan launch vehicle or its own Next Generation Launch Vehicle, both in development.

Sierra Nevada is only committing to build one Dream Chaser and not do a demo flight.

There is some good discussion of how the pricing evaluations for the three contractors could change based on how the calculations were carried out in the evaluation (factors include flight rate based on how many contractor were chosen which affects discounts based on missions per year, and not properly calculating the discounts for the missions per year.)
« Last Edit: 04/27/2018 03:21 AM by gongora »

Offline Sam Ho

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