Poll

Which vehicle/spacecraft will be next to carry crew to orbit from the US?

F9/Dragon
269 (83.5%)
AtlasV/CST100
18 (5.6%)
AtlasV/DreamChaser
16 (5%)
F9/DreamChaser
3 (0.9%)
F9/CST100
4 (1.2%)
SLS/Orion
6 (1.9%)
Delta IV/Orion
6 (1.9%)

Total Members Voted: 322

Voting closed: 06/30/2014 11:24 pm


Author Topic: Which vehicle/spacecraft will be next to carry crew to orbit from the US?  (Read 56469 times)

Online oiorionsbelt

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Hopefully all the realistic options are listed.
« Last Edit: 01/07/2014 10:25 pm by oiorionsbelt »

Online Robotbeat

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

Also, you wrote STS/Orion when I think you mean SLS/Orion. :)
(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)
« Last Edit: 01/07/2014 10:48 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline PahTo

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When this poll last came out (a couple years ago?) I selected AtlasV/CST100.  Given the passage of time and events, I'm now leaning towards F9/Dragon, and my vote reflects that.

Online RonM

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SpaceX does have a big head start with the cargo Dragon. I think modifying it to a manned vehicle gives them the edge.

Offline NovaSilisko

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I'm quite sure that STS is not gonna be the vehicle carrying Orion ;p


(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)

Interesting... PM me with any links to info on this, I'm curious now.
« Last Edit: 01/07/2014 11:00 pm by NovaSilisko »

Online oiorionsbelt

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

Also, you wrote STS/Orion when I think you mean SLS/Orion. :)
(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)
Whoops definitely SLS, not STS fixed that :) and took your suggestion adding Delta IV/Orion

Offline mb199

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

Also, you wrote STS/Orion when I think you mean SLS/Orion. :)
(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)

Orion will never leave the ground!

Online Robotbeat

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

Also, you wrote STS/Orion when I think you mean SLS/Orion. :)
(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)

Orion will never leave the ground!
On the contrary, it's leaving the ground this year (and in test article form, it has already left the ground in several abort and/or drop tests). It does remain to be seen, however, if it will ever leave the ground with crew.
« Last Edit: 01/07/2014 11:18 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline AS-503

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

Also, you wrote STS/Orion when I think you mean SLS/Orion. :)
(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)

Orion will never leave the ground!

Delta IV is highly unlikely to ever be "manned rated" in the eyes of NASA. Even if the green light were given today for a manned rated Delta IV, the others would still fly first, which is the topic at hand.
I agree that a manned Orion will likely never fly. If there were actual real AND funded missions for Orion I would be more optimistic.

Online rcoppola

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F9/Dragon. From Pad 39A. (The Dream - December 2015.) (What I suspect - December 2016)

« Last Edit: 01/07/2014 11:33 pm by rcoppola »
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Online Robotbeat

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

Also, you wrote STS/Orion when I think you mean SLS/Orion. :)
(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)

Orion will never leave the ground!

Delta IV is highly unlikely to ever be "manned rated" in the eyes of NASA. Even if the green light were given today for a manned rated Delta IV, the others would still fly first, which is the topic at hand.
I agree that a manned Orion will likely never fly. If there were actual real AND funded missions for Orion I would be more optimistic.
I strongly disagree. I've already seen a hint of some internal support for Orion on Delta IV, and after a successful unmanned Orion-on-DeltaIV launch this year, just you watch that grow. I know it's "InternetTrue"TM that Delta IV is "unsuitable."

That said, I agree Falcon/Dragon will leave the ground with crew well before Orion does.
« Last Edit: 01/07/2014 11:53 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline Khadgars

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

Also, you wrote STS/Orion when I think you mean SLS/Orion. :)
(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)

Orion will never leave the ground!



Delta IV is highly unlikely to ever be "manned rated" in the eyes of NASA. Even if the green light were given today for a manned rated Delta IV, the others would still fly first, which is the topic at hand.
I agree that a manned Orion will likely never fly. If there were actual real AND funded missions for Orion I would be more optimistic.

The first two, possibly three flights of SLS/Orion seem like a sure thing to me.  What happens after that is anyone's guess.

Offline Nomadd

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 The poll looks like a real squeaker so far.
« Last Edit: 01/10/2014 11:19 am by Nomadd »
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Offline mb199

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

Also, you wrote STS/Orion when I think you mean SLS/Orion. :)
(Although STS/capsule was once looked at.)

Orion will never leave the ground!

Delta IV is highly unlikely to ever be "manned rated" in the eyes of NASA. Even if the green light were given today for a manned rated Delta IV, the others would still fly first, which is the topic at hand.
I agree that a manned Orion will likely never fly. If there were actual real AND funded missions for Orion I would be more optimistic.
I strongly disagree. I've already seen a hint of some internal support for Orion on Delta IV, and after a successful unmanned Orion-on-DeltaIV launch this year, just you watch that grow. I know it's "InternetTrue"TM that Delta IV is "unsuitable."

That said, I agree Falcon/Dragon will leave the ground with crew well before Orion does.

What purpose would there be to put a manned Orion on a Delta IV??

Online Robotbeat

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What purpose to Orion on Ares I?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline vt_hokie

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The poll sure looks like a real squeaker so far.

My heart is still with Dream Chaser though!  :)

Offline arachnitect

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SpaceX does have a big head start with the cargo Dragon. I think modifying it to a manned vehicle gives them the edge.


SpaceX' edge is overstated: they're changing pretty much everything for manned dragon (aero, propulsion, power, recovery, ecs, etc.). I assume the mods are all well underway, but we've seen very few of them in the open.

I think SpaceX will win by submitting a ridiculously low bid.


I've already seen a hint of some internal support for Orion on Delta IV

That would have been good to have circa 2007.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2014 12:12 am by arachnitect »

Offline savuporo

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I've already seen a hint of some internal support for Orion on Delta IV

That would have been good to have circa 2007.
Make that 2004/2005 when VSE was still on track
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline AS-503

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What purpose to Orion on Ares I?

That would imply 1.5 architecture, which we know has been *dead* since CxP was cancelled.
For example, an Orion on Delta IV means an Orion to LEO (or high eccentric LEO like the upcoming test flight).
As you well know, Orion is not an LEO specific spacecraft. In fact it has been touted time and again as a superior spacecraft to the LEO competition (rightfully so), but it needs SLS (or a return to 1.5 or 2.0 launch architecture) to be BEO.
So Orion launching on a Delta IV is NOT going to BEO, but you knew that already. ;)
« Last Edit: 01/08/2014 12:52 am by AS-503 »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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That would imply 1.5 architecture, which we know has been *dead* since CxP was cancelled.
For example, an Orion on Delta IV means an Orion to LEO (or high eccentric LEO like the upcoming test flight).
As you well know, Orion is not an LEO specific spacecraft. In fact it has been touted time and again as a superior spacecraft to the LEO competition (rightfully so), but it needs SLS (or a return to 1.5 or 2.0 launch architecture) to be BEO.
So Orion launching on a Delta IV is NOT going to BEO, but you knew that already. ;)

Or a 4.0 architecture.

The Delta IV could fly the Orion to a propellant depot where it picks up a lunar lander, inspace stage and the return_to_Earth propellant.

Online rcoppola

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SpaceX does have a big head start with the cargo Dragon. I think modifying it to a manned vehicle gives them the edge.


SpaceX' edge is overstated: they're changing pretty much everything for manned dragon (aero, propulsion, power, recovery, ecs, etc.). I assume the mods are all well underway, but we've seen very few of them in the open.

I think SpaceX will win by submitting a ridiculously low bid.


I've already seen a hint of some internal support for Orion on Delta IV

That would have been good to have circa 2007.
Perhaps the ease, or lack thereof,  to move from Cargo Dragon to Crew Dragon is overstated but their "Lead" in being able to offer a fully integrated Crew capability at a very competitive price isn't. NASA will not simply place their astronauts on Dragon because of a ridiculously low bid.

The systems have to be proven out against stringent HSF guidelines. The fact that they will be able to offer a very good price along with excellent engineering, is one of the main tenets of this program in the first place. One of the biggest cost and engineering proof positives is how well F9v1.1 is proving to be so far. As well as all the incredible ops experience they are/will get while servicing the ISS over the next few years. And certainly having exclusive rights to modify Pad-39A doesn't hurt either.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2014 01:03 am by rcoppola »
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Offline manboy

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Probably Falcon 9/Dragon. But it's definitely not a sure thing.

What purpose to Orion on Ares I?
Pay for some of the development of Ares V, increase commonality and reduce the recurring cost of the Ares V.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2014 03:05 am by manboy »
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Offline ChefPat

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I voted with the majority. F9/Dragon in 4th quarter 2015. SpaceX will continue their aggressive schedule & fly crew long before anybody else does.
Why wasn't the Blue Origin biconic capsule included in the poll?
Playing Politics with Commercial Crew is Un-American!!!

Offline Avron

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Whats the FAA regs for flying humans without NASA funding /support? Is there any direct relationship?

Offline ClaytonBirchenough

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What purpose to Orion on Ares I?

There were Ares V payloads or an EDS to rendezvous with...
Clayton Birchenough
Astro. Engineer and Computational Mathematics @ ERAU

Offline joek

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Whats the FAA regs for flying humans without NASA funding /support? Is there any direct relationship?

No direct relationship. FAA's focus is public safety; they do not currently have authority to address occupant safety.  NASA adds requirements for crew and mission safety.  FAA and NASA are still working to ensure their requirements and regulations do not conflict.

Thus, if you wanted to launch people tomorrow with no NASA involvement, you would need an FAA launch and reentry license just as with any other flight.  From the FAA's perspective the payload would be subject to the same safety considerations as any other payload.  Beyond that there are a few human-specific FAA regulations you would have to meet.

Attached is a pdf of a presentation given by the FAA at the CCtCap pre-proposal conference which should help.

Offline Avron

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Whats the FAA regs for flying humans without NASA funding /support? Is there any direct relationship?


Thus, if you wanted to launch people tomorrow with no NASA involvement, you would need an FAA launch and reentry license just as with any other flight.  From the FAA's perspective the payload would be subject to the same safety considerations as any other payload.  Beyond that there are a few human-specific FAA regulations you would have to meet.

Attached is a pdf of a presentation given by the FAA at the CCtCap pre-proposal conference which should help.

Many thanks..

get licence "FAA launch and reentry"
sign consent form
clear with range
light the candle 

Offline rockinghorse

The poll sure looks like a real squeaker so far.
My heart is still with Dream Chaser though!  :)

I too like Dream Chaser, because the name is so cool and I like winged EDL vehicles more. But also spacecraft that is named after Puff the Magic Dragon, cannot be too wrong!

I think that what Dream Chaser needs in order to have bright future, is integrated upper stage engines. Therefore although Dragon probably wins the race to orbit, Dream Chaser 2 may be the long term winner with crewed flights.

Offline ClaytonBirchenough

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I too like Dream Chaser, because the name is so cool and I like winged EDL vehicles more. But also spacecraft that is named after Puff the Magic Dragon, cannot be too wrong!

I think that what Dream Chaser needs in order to have bright future, is integrated upper stage engines. Therefore although Dragon probably wins the race to orbit, Dream Chaser 2 may be the long term winner with crewed flights.

C'mon. Still talking about integrating Dream Chaser with an upper stage!?  ::)
Clayton Birchenough
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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{snip}

I think that what Dream Chaser needs in order to have bright future, is integrated upper stage engines. Therefore although Dragon probably wins the race to orbit, Dream Chaser 2 may be the long term winner with crewed flights.

How expensive are upper stage engines?
How expensive is surrounding the engines and fuel tanks with a heat shield?
Include repair and replacement costs.

Over N launches is this cheaper than using expandable upper stages?

Offline M129K

Where's Orion/Ariane 5?  :P

On a more serious note, I voted Delta IV/Orion, though that is more wishful thinking than what I really predict.

Offline ClaytonBirchenough

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Where's Orion/Ariane 5?  :P

On a more serious note, I voted Delta IV/Orion, though that is more wishful thinking than what I really predict.

I don't understand where Delta IV/Orion is coming from...
Clayton Birchenough
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Offline mb199

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Where's Orion/Ariane 5?  :P

On a more serious note, I voted Delta IV/Orion, though that is more wishful thinking than what I really predict.

I don't understand where Delta IV/Orion is coming from...

Agreed, what purpose would there be in putting a manned Orion on top of a Delta IV??

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Where's Orion/Ariane 5?  :P

On a more serious note, I voted Delta IV/Orion, though that is more wishful thinking than what I really predict.

I don't understand where Delta IV/Orion is coming from...

The unmanned Orion is due to be tested on a Delta IV so they will be integrated.  To make the assembly a viable LEO launch system the Delta IV needs to be man rated.  The expertise, and some of the parts, used to man rate the Atlas V could be used to man rate the Delta IV.

Offline ClaytonBirchenough

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The unmanned Orion is due to be tested on a Delta IV so they will be integrated.  To make the assembly a viable LEO launch system the Delta IV needs to be man rated.  The expertise, and some of the parts, used to man rate the Atlas V could be used to man rate the Delta IV.

I'm still confused. Commercial crew should take care of the ISS. Orion is a BEO vehicle.
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Offline beancounter

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Probably Falcon 9/Dragon. But it's definitely not a sure thing.

What purpose to Orion on Ares I?
Pay for some of the development of Ares V, increase commonality and reduce the recurring cost of the Ares V.

Where are you getting any Ares vehicles from?  They no longer exist.  Actually strike that.  They never did exist.
Beancounter from DownUnder

Online GalacticIntruder

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F9 for sure, but I call a dead heat between CST and DragonRider. Boeing could blow SpX out of the water if they weren't so cheap and actually spent their own vast resources on this project. That is not the case so my vote is for DragonRider.  Their obsession about it gives them the edge.  IMO, CST is also a less ambitious craft, so if SpX encounters dev  problems Boeing could win.
Moon landings were fake and the SLS/Orion debacle is the proof.

Offline Patchouli

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I'm going with F9 Dragon as the most ahead with Dream Chaser Atlas and CST-100 Atlas vying for second and third.

DC is more complex then the CST-100 but it got a head start and a variant of it's propulsion system is already under going test flights so the two might be very close.



The unmanned Orion is due to be tested on a Delta IV so they will be integrated.  To make the assembly a viable LEO launch system the Delta IV needs to be man rated.  The expertise, and some of the parts, used to man rate the Atlas V could be used to man rate the Delta IV.

Orion still lacks a service module at this point.
« Last Edit: 01/13/2014 05:49 am by Patchouli »

Offline rockinghorse

I think that what Dream Chaser needs in order to have bright future, is integrated upper stage engines. Therefore although Dragon probably wins the race to orbit, Dream Chaser 2 may be the long term winner with crewed flights.
How expensive are upper stage engines?

I would guess that expendable upper stage with rocket engines costs about one million per passenger. Therefore if we ever want affordable space tourism, reusable upperstage is pretty much necessity.

Offline Lars_J

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I think that what Dream Chaser needs in order to have bright future, is integrated upper stage engines. Therefore although Dragon probably wins the race to orbit, Dream Chaser 2 may be the long term winner with crewed flights.
How expensive are upper stage engines?

I would guess that expendable upper stage with rocket engines costs about one million per passenger. Therefore if we ever want affordable space tourism, reusable upperstage is pretty much necessity.

And you base this ...guess... based on what data exactly?

Online faramund

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I think that what Dream Chaser needs in order to have bright future, is integrated upper stage engines. Therefore although Dragon probably wins the race to orbit, Dream Chaser 2 may be the long term winner with crewed flights.
How expensive are upper stage engines?

I would guess that expendable upper stage with rocket engines costs about one million per passenger. Therefore if we ever want affordable space tourism, reusable upperstage is pretty much necessity.

And you base this ...guess... based on what data exactly?

Ok, well how about .. the cheapest you can buy a Falcon heavy for is 77m, and Musk has said a first stage costs less than a second stage, so let's assume they cost half as much. So 77/(3*2+1)=7m, Crewed Dragon takes 7 people, so $1m per passenger. It seems that most other reasonable assumptions (excluding reusability) would only make this bigger.

(it could be argued that a second stage has less than an $11m marginal cost - but thats hard to justify)

[Also, 77/7 is really 11m, so more like 1.6m per passenger]
« Last Edit: 01/13/2014 05:57 pm by faramund »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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The unmanned Orion is due to be tested on a Delta IV so they will be integrated.  To make the assembly a viable LEO launch system the Delta IV needs to be man rated.  The expertise, and some of the parts, used to man rate the Atlas V could be used to man rate the Delta IV.

I'm still confused. Commercial crew should take care of the ISS. Orion is a BEO vehicle.

'How' and 'why' are different questions.

To get to BEO Orion has to go through LEO.  Using the same LV to push Orion past LEO as was used to get through the Earth's atmosphere is just one option.  A second option is to use a reusable inspace tug.

Offline Proponent

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The unmanned Orion is due to be tested on a Delta IV so they will be integrated.  To make the assembly a viable LEO launch system the Delta IV needs to be man rated.  The expertise, and some of the parts, used to man rate the Atlas V could be used to man rate the Delta IV.

I'm still confused. Commercial crew should take care of the ISS. Orion is a BEO vehicle.

I agree with you.  On the other hand, the 2010 NASA authorization explicitly requires that both SLS (Sec. 302, Para. [c][1][D]) and Orion (Sec. 303, Para. [b][3]) be available to back-up commercial providers for transport to ISS (by 31 Dec. 2016, by the way).  I think this is mistaken for several reasons, but hey, who cares what I think?

Offline Altonity

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F9/ Dragon as part of test flight by SpaceX crew.

Online Robotbeat

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Delta IV/Orion would allow the SLS people to focus on building for cargo. Also, lunar concepts currently assume a dual-SLS launch, which would be very difficult because the currently expected launch rate for SLS is very low. If you launched with Delta IV, that problem is eliminated because you can launch with Delta IV and SLS at basically the same time, without having to have another pad for SLS (with a bunch more annual upkeep costs).

And there ARE similarities between Delta IV and SLS. For instance, the interim upper stage for SLS is based on the Delta IV upper stage. And, of course, Delta IV is launching Orion later this year unmanned.

...And this doesn't mean Orion /will/ fly with crew on Delta IV, just that it makes at least as much sense as the current program of record. What happens if SLS has major schedule setbacks but Orion is ready? Yeah, chances are work on Orion would just slow down, but after a successful DeltaIV/Orion unmanned launch, you'd really get some people considering it strongly...

...all that said, I'm pretty sure Dragon will be there first with crew.
« Last Edit: 01/13/2014 06:43 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline M129K

I'm still confused. Commercial crew should take care of the ISS. Orion is a BEO vehicle.
I like having a single crew vehicle take care of everything. I also like having a way for Orion to reach LEO without having to launch on the massive SLS, so both HLV and multi-launch paths are viable.

It's a personal preference. Like I said, wishful thinking.

Online Elmar Moelzer

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I like having a single crew vehicle take care of everything
I want just the opposite. I want multiple vehicles and providers. That way US astronauts wont be grounded (or flying on Soyuz) should there be a failure (and subsequent months long investigation). Plus competition keeps the cost low.

Offline Comga

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The poll looks like a real squeaker so far.

Where's your winking emoticon? ;)
It's over 20:1 F9-Dragon over all others.
I also voted for F9-Dragon.
DreamChaser is good looking, and there should now be the choice of DC on Ariane-5, but it is doubtful anyone (not French) would put that combo in first place.
Discussions of the cost of second stages are Off Topics and WAY off the mark.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline TomH

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Well, SNC is the first to announce a target date, but there is no way Elon is going to let them launch first. Voted F9/Dragon.

Offline mike robel

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SNC is a target date for an unmanned launch, is it not?

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I'd say that Dragon has a comfortable lead but CST-100 could easily overtake them if SpaceX run into serious technical or scheduling problems. Orion is, IMHO several laps behind and doesn't even think of itself as being in the same race.
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Offline Proponent

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I'm going with the herd: Dragon/F9.  Dragon is pretty clearly in the lead at this point, with hardware having flown to orbit multiple times.  Even though the Dragons flown thus far aren't exactly the crew-carrying version, it's closer to being flight-proven than any alternative.  Like CST-100, it has the benefit of a full commercial-crew contract.  And of all the options, Dragon seems most likely to be funded should government funding be cut or eliminated.

Offline Go4TLI

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I'm going with the herd: Dragon/F9.  Dragon is pretty clearly in the lead at this point, with hardware having flown to orbit multiple times.  Even though the Dragons flown thus far aren't exactly the crew-carrying version, it's closer to being flight-proven than any alternative.  Like CST-100, it has the benefit of a full commercial-crew contract.  And of all the options, Dragon seems most likely to be funded should government funding be cut or eliminated.

One of the arguments many liked to make against shuttle was the "all the eggs in one basket" one. 

I'm curious about something.  Many of those on here are now proclaiming Dragon/F9 for everything (not totally surprised on that by the way).  So I would like someone to walk me through the logic. 

If, more likely when, something happens and either Dragon and/or F9 are grounded for some time, crew capability is lost for some measure of time as well as half the cargo supply.  And let's face it, these are smaller vehicles so more frequent runs are needed.  And they don't grow on trees so Orbital just can't pick up the slack. 

So what happened to the redundancy argument used?

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One of the arguments many liked to make against shuttle was the "all the eggs in one basket" one. 

I'm curious about something.  Many of those on here are now proclaiming Dragon/F9 for everything (not totally surprised on that by the way).  So I would like someone to walk me through the logic. 

If, more likely when, something happens and either Dragon and/or F9 are grounded for some time, crew capability is lost for some measure of time as well as half the cargo supply.  And let's face it, these are smaller vehicles so more frequent runs are needed.  And they don't grow on trees so Orbital just can't pick up the slack. 

So what happened to the redundancy argument used?
I am totally with you on that one. I do want that redundancy too (as well as competition), which is why I want more than one commercial crew option funded.

Offline rpapo

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Remember, NASA wants the competition.  Congress, for its own reasons, does not appear to want it.  From where I sit, the more the merrier.  It would help keep everybody on their toes.
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Offline Go4TLI

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Remember, NASA wants the competition.  Congress, for its own reasons, does not appear to want it.  From where I sit, the more the merrier.  It would help keep everybody on their toes.

No.  This is a false argument.  Without some sort of measurable customer base beyond NASA, multiple providers WILL cost more to NASA. 

Companies will not be doing paying for this on their own to be kind to NASA.  Supply chains need to be kept online, workforce ready, etc.  Everything that needs to be paid to keep the vehicle and capability sustained and ready will be passed on to NASA. 

So the question is, if there is to be one, why does it need to be Dragon/F9?  If the rationale is to provide maximum flexibility to ISS and NASA for cargo and crew, while still factoring cost into the equation, the answer is another crew provider other than SpaceX.

Two cargo vehicles.  Different suppliers.  Different rockets
One crew vehicle.  Different company.  Different rocket than both cargo vehicles. 

And, picking someone other than SpaceX does not shut them out forever. 

Offline brihath

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I voted for F9/Dragon, as I think they have the greatest opportunity to be ready to fly crew, as they can test much of the crewed Dragon design on unmanned Dragon flights, reducing risk and improving chances of success.  I would like to see DC/Atlas V fly first, but I feel that Mr. Musk will beat SNC to the goal.  SNC also suffers from a lower funding level than SpaceX, increasing schedule risk if issues occur.

Offline Proponent

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I'm going with the herd: Dragon/F9.  Dragon is pretty clearly in the lead at this point, with hardware having flown to orbit multiple times.  Even though the Dragons flown thus far aren't exactly the crew-carrying version, it's closer to being flight-proven than any alternative.  Like CST-100, it has the benefit of a full commercial-crew contract.  And of all the options, Dragon seems most likely to be funded should government funding be cut or eliminated.

One of the arguments many liked to make against shuttle was the "all the eggs in one basket" one. 

I'm curious about something.  Many of those on here are now proclaiming Dragon/F9 for everything (not totally surprised on that by the way).  So I would like someone to walk me through the logic. 

If, more likely when, something happens and either Dragon and/or F9 are grounded for some time, crew capability is lost for some measure of time as well as half the cargo supply.  And let's face it, these are smaller vehicles so more frequent runs are needed.  And they don't grow on trees so Orbital just can't pick up the slack. 

So what happened to the redundancy argument used?

This thread is about people's guesses as to how the next US-launched crew will reach orbit.  Could we please move discussion of other issues to the appropriate threads.

Offline mgreb

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I am worried that there will be a down-select to one, and the winner will be Atlas5/cst100, with the reasons being political and not technical or economical.

Offline simonbp

Which actually would not be the worst option, as SpaceX would still sell crew Dragons for purely private flights. That probably cannot be said for the other two. Just selecting SpaceX and giving no money to anyone else would effectively create a monopoly.

But Dragon will still probably fly a crew first. As strange as it to think about, they are basically the established incumbent, and Boeing and SNC are the insurgents.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2014 06:03 am by simonbp »

Offline guckyfan

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Which actually would not be the worst option, as SpaceX would still sell crew Dragons for purely private flights. That probably cannot be said for the other two. Just selecting SpaceX and giving no money to anyone else would effectively create a monopoly.

But Dragon will still probably fly a crew first. As strange as it to think about, they are basically the established incumbent, and Boeing and SNC are the insurgents.

Yeah right. Ignore the selection rules. Punish the small company that is the leader in the race and reward the huge company that is behind.

It's the american way, it's the right thing to do.


Offline QuantumG

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Yeah right. Ignore the selection rules. Punish the small company that is the leader in the race and reward the huge company that is behind.

Wouldn't surprise me at all.. it's the reason CCDev was started instead of just exercising COTS-D.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline intrepidpursuit

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I am worried that there will be a down-select to one, and the winner will be Atlas5/cst100, with the reasons being political and not technical or economical.

I voted Atlas 5/CST-100 for this reason. Congress designs NASAs rockets for them and they will not have that option with SpaceX. Congress will ensure that a major player who will go along with the "build in as many congressional districts as possible" plan for political success wins the high profile bid. Technology, cost effectiveness, and even safety (see STS) have nothing to do with it.

Offline HIP2BSQRE

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Which actually would not be the worst option, as SpaceX would still sell crew Dragons for purely private flights. That probably cannot be said for the other two. Just selecting SpaceX and giving no money to anyone else would effectively create a monopoly.

But Dragon will still probably fly a crew first. As strange as it to think about, they are basically the established incumbent, and Boeing and SNC are the insurgents.

Boeing is a great company, but as you stated if only 1 company gets picked it should be SpaceX.  I think SpaceX is about a year ahead of Boeing.    When will we get to see Boeing's milestones for abort flights?  SpaceX is behind in their schedule - but as everyone knows we should them this year.

Offline Proponent

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As I read it, what simonbp is saying is that if the field is narrowed to a single company, it should not be SpaceX, because SpaceX will likely carry on even if it is not selected.

Offline simonbp

As I read it, what simonbp is saying is that if the field is narrowed to a single company, it should not be SpaceX, because SpaceX will likely carry on even if it is not selected.

Yes, exactly. If Boeing doesn't get money in the next round, they are probably out. Despite their work with Bigelow, Boeing doesn't seem that enthusiastic about finding a non-NASA customer. If SNC doesn't get money in the next round, they'll probably try to continue, possibly with whatever money DLR can send them. But the probability that DreamChaser would fly in that scenario is low.

SpaceX, on the other hand, will be flying cargo Dragons to ISS for the foreseeable future, regardless of the crew vehicle decision. Even if they are not initially selected to provide crew, it would not be a massive move for them to add crew Dragon flights later.

An ideal scenario would be that either Boeing or SNC gets 2/3 of the crew launch money, and SpaceX the remaining 1/3. Then, one of the non-SpaceX vehicles would fly, but Dragon would still be there as an alternative.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2014 02:55 pm by simonbp »

Offline Lar

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Maybe it's just me but I have a lot of trouble with the notion that the money should go to a competitor less interested in the advancement of the state of the art and less likely to continue if they don't get it and arguably less far along (despite what milestones are completed numerically).

My ideal scenario would be that both SpaceX and SNC are fully funded and Boeing is downselected out. Second choice would be SpaceX gets full and SNC 1/2.  Downselecting to one now seems a really bad idea.

But punish the current leader to handicap the race? Dumb idea.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2014 04:09 pm by Lar »
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Offline Lars_J

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Maybe it's just me but I have a lot of trouble with the notion that the money should go to a competitor less interested in the advancement of the state of the art and less likely to continue if they don't get it and arguably less far along (despite what milestones are completed numerically).

Yes, this. For the last couple of decades, Boeing has been a contractor that wouldn't lift a finger unless it could bill the government for it. They appear to have put some skin in the game for CST-100, but old habits die hard.

Offline arachnitect

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Maybe it's just me but I have a lot of trouble with the notion that the money should go to a competitor less interested in the advancement of the state of the art and less likely to continue if they don't get it and arguably less far along (despite what milestones are completed numerically).

Yes, this. For the last couple of decades, Boeing has been a contractor that wouldn't lift a finger unless it could bill the government for it. They appear to have put some skin in the game for CST-100, but old habits die hard.

SpaceX isn't working for free either, and they don't have shareholders to answer to.

Good intentions are meaningless without money behind them; a bankrupt company can't advance the industry either.

The money (all of it) should go to whoever can make the 2017 deadline at the lowest price.

Offline joek

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Maybe it's just me but I have a lot of trouble with the notion that the money should go to a competitor less interested in the advancement of the state of the art and less likely to continue if they don't get it and arguably less far along (despite what milestones are completed numerically).

It won't.  The award(s) will go to the offeror(s) who can meet the requirements at lowest cost.  The rules are quite specific and explicit, and spelled out in both the RFP and FAR rules and regulations.  That's not to say some contendor's might not lodge an objection, but to assume or presume that NASA will contravene the rules is dubious at best (there would be hell to pay).  Sure, political or other pressure could be brought to bear to influence to change/delay selection, but IMHO that would leave so many tracks that the entire process would be back to square one.  I don't think that is in anyone's interest, and I would hope and expect all of the contender's recognize that.

Offline Lar

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Maybe it's just me but I have a lot of trouble with the notion that the money should go to a competitor less interested in the advancement of the state of the art and less likely to continue if they don't get it and arguably less far along (despite what milestones are completed numerically).

It won't.  The award(s) will go to the offeror(s) who can meet the requirements at lowest cost.  The rules are quite specific and explicit, and spelled out in both the RFP and FAR rules and regulations.  That's not to say some contendor's might not lodge an objection, but to assume or presume that NASA will contravene the rules is dubious at best (there would be hell to pay).  Sure, political or other pressure could be brought to bear to influence to change/delay selection, but IMHO that would leave so many tracks that the entire process would be back to square one.  I don't think that is in anyone's interest, and I would hope and expect all of the contender's recognize that.

The rules of the meta-game are that congress can change the rules of the game any time they muster the votes. So I find your words reassuring but sadly not convincing. It's the way to hope though.
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Offline Ike17055

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Regardless of one's opinion of Boeing and its committment, or which company is ahead, etc, or which is "coolest," or most advanced/ progressive/ cutting edge, the fact remains that a major consideration is development of a vehicle with reliability and proven capability.  Boeing, by virtue of being "Old Space" with its considerable history, and its approach of applying known capabilities and systems for CST, can make a pretty heavy duty argument as the logical choice in a tight budget environment and amidst residual sensitivity over the STS losses (and resulting program fallout).

It is NOT just who delivers fastest and at lowest cost. It is also who provides for a confidence level that their vehicle won't kill a crew as well as produce a vehicle and support services to that vehicle to ensure a reliable space transportation system going forward. It is difficult to objectively dismiss Boring's advantages in this aspect of the competition. 

Online Robotbeat

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Regardless of one's opinion of Boeing and its committment, or which company is ahead, etc, or which is "coolest," or most advanced/ progressive/ cutting edge, the fact remains that a major consideration is development of a vehicle with reliability and proven capability.  Boeing, by virtue of being "Old Space" with its considerable history, and its approach of applying known capabilities and systems for CST, can make a pretty heavy duty argument as the logical choice in a tight budget environment and amidst residual sensitivity over the STS losses (and resulting program fallout).

It is NOT just who delivers fastest and at lowest cost. It is also who provides for a confidence level that their vehicle won't kill a crew as well as produce a vehicle and support services to that vehicle to ensure a reliable space transportation system going forward. It is difficult to objectively dismiss Boring's advantages in this aspect of the competition.
You are aware that /Boeing/ was partially responsible for the STS losses by virtue of helping to design, build, and operate it?

Also, you're aware that if you're talking about a company that has a proven capability to launch, dock, reenter, and recover a space capsule, there's only a /single/ American company that does that right now, and they aren't Boeing?

And if you're talking about proven capability to work within a tight budget, why are you still talking about Boeing?

Nothing you just said seems to point to Boeing. The only argument I see that makes sense is they already have the right lobbyists in place, already have old connections.

Now, I applaud Boeing's design, and it's true the company is capable of doing what they said they want to do, but if we're talking about "proven capability" for this vehicle, only SpaceX comes close. LM may be able to say something about it by the end of the year, but not yet.
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Offline Ike17055

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Ludicrous. Spacex may have an operational vehicle (which is not the same as the pending crew vehicle) but they have zero history with crew. Boeing is unmatched currently in this area. And blaming Boeing for STS lesses and citing it as a reason to not consider is just as ludicrous. Just as we learned from loss of Apollo 1, Old Space learns from its history, good and bad. What happens if Space X loses a crew?  They have a "perfect record" with crew, as does any company that has never clown a crew.

Offline Ike17055

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And loss of orbiters was not the fault of Boeing... An absurd argument.

Offline CitabriaFlyer

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I voted for Dragon/F9.

Having said that DreamChaser would be a nice capability.

With respect to Boeing, in 2010 I flew a number of combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan as a flight doc in a KC-135 the USAF bought in 1959.  Those are sharp jets even half a century after they were built.  The KC-135 and B-52 aircraft are probably among the best financial decisions the US Government ever made in terms of return on investment.  That legacy would mean a lot to me if I were selecting CCDev.

Honestly, I wish there were a market to support all three.

What is the legacy of Boeing's space division?  Are these people from North American/Rockwell or McDonnell or Boeing's own space original space department?  Or are the mergers far enough in the past that these people are simply Boeing?

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Ludicrous. Spacex may have an operational vehicle (which is not the same as the pending crew vehicle) but they have zero history with crew. Boeing is unmatched currently in this area. And blaming Boeing for STS lesses and citing it as a reason to not consider is just as ludicrous. Just as we learned from loss of Apollo 1, Old Space learns from its history, good and bad. What happens if Space X loses a crew?  They have a "perfect record" with crew, as does any company that has never clown a crew.
If you're going to count STS experience in Boeing's favor, you must acknowledge some of STS's problems. STS is proof that the "Old Space" companies are in no way immune to screw ups (even if the most direct blame for the screw-up is two subcontractors down the chain).

The history of Boeing is not an unalloyed positive, that was my point, not to put the whole blame on Boeing or anything like that.
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Offline Mader Levap

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And loss of orbiters was not the fault of Boeing... An absurd argument.
So, in conclusion, you want Boeing to take credit only for successes of STS and avoid responsibility for failure. How nice.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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One of the arguments many liked to make against shuttle was the "all the eggs in one basket" one. 

I'm curious about something.  Many of those on here are now proclaiming Dragon/F9 for everything (not totally surprised on that by the way).  So I would like someone to walk me through the logic. 

If, more likely when, something happens and either Dragon and/or F9 are grounded for some time, crew capability is lost for some measure of time as well as half the cargo supply.  And let's face it, these are smaller vehicles so more frequent runs are needed.  And they don't grow on trees so Orbital just can't pick up the slack. 

So what happened to the redundancy argument used?
I am totally with you on that one. I do want that redundancy too (as well as competition), which is why I want more than one commercial crew option funded.

Everyone seems to think it's very likely that if there's one crew launch system only, at some point it will have a mishap and then be out of service for an extended period.

If that's true, then having two systems only gives the illusion of safety.  You're safer having only one system and continuing to use it even after a mishap, even if you haven't reached the root cause yet.  That's because our assumption is that there are very likely to be mishaps.  So if you have two vehicles and you stop using one because of a mishap, the other is still likely to have serious problems you haven't uncovered yet.  Having one vehicle that flies more often gives you only half the total number of root cause problems you have to find.  So, the total number of fatal accidents per flight is going to be lower with one vehicle than with two, even if you stand down one of the vehicles after each mishap.

Of course, having only one vehicle and standing down after a mishap until the root cause is identified gives even greater safety.  But, under the assumption that mishaps are likely, if the choice is between two vehicles and standing down after each mishap or just one vehicle but no stand-down, the one vehicle with no stand-down is the safer option.

In other words, having two vehicles is just so much less safe than having only one that even not standing down after a mishap with one vehicle doesn't decrease safety as much as having two vehicles.

Online Elmar Moelzer

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Everyone seems to think it's very likely that if there's one crew launch system only, at some point it will have a mishap and then be out of service for an extended period.

If that's true, then having two systems only gives the illusion of safety.  You're safer having only one system and continuing to use it even after a mishap, even if you haven't reached the root cause yet.  That's because our assumption is that there are very likely to be mishaps.  So if you have two vehicles and you stop using one because of a mishap, the other is still likely to have serious problems you haven't uncovered yet.  Having one vehicle that flies more often gives you only half the total number of root cause problems you have to find.  So, the total number of fatal accidents per flight is going to be lower with one vehicle than with two, even if you stand down one of the vehicles after each mishap.

Of course, having only one vehicle and standing down after a mishap until the root cause is identified gives even greater safety.  But, under the assumption that mishaps are likely, if the choice is between two vehicles and standing down after each mishap or just one vehicle but no stand-down, the one vehicle with no stand-down is the safer option.

In other words, having two vehicles is just so much less safe than having only one that even not standing down after a mishap with one vehicle doesn't decrease safety as much as having two vehicles.
The argument for redundancy is not about safety, it is about avoiding years of grounded American crews, like we saw every time the STS had a failure.

Offline veblen

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And loss of orbiters was not the fault of Boeing... An absurd argument.
So, in conclusion, you want Boeing to take credit only for successes of STS and avoid responsibility for failure. How nice.

This is old ground but pressing on to launch the shuttle stack in freezing temps on January 28 1986 was a NASA management decision. With Columbia the assessment of damage to the orbiter wing and what to do about it - again, STS managers made those decisions.

 

Offline Ike17055

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Do you read?   My point, stated clearly, was that they and others who participated in the mistakes that led to LoC missions are going to have bad and good in their record. That is the nature of flight history.  But to say, " can't pick boeing. They were involved in STS, which, you know, had two major flight failures" is absurd.  That is the argument you stated, without recognizing apparently that such a comparison only logically points to SpaceX lack of flight history to make a comparative judgment. The fanboy thing (by all factions) is pretty tiresome. My premise staNds: Boeing has enjoyed far more success, objectively measured, than SpaceX, by far, and i don't dislike SpaceX at all. They are shaking up the industry and procurement in a vastly overdue way. But facts are facts. Many will view Boeing as the "safe choice" on a variety of criteria. Whethert hey are thec rigeria that will matter is another thing completely...

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... But to say, " can't pick boeing. They were involved in STS, which, you know, had two major flight failures" is absurd. ...
Where did I make that argument?

For the record, I'd pick Boeing ahead of SNC, but SpaceX ahead of both. This is not just a cost argument (though that's relevant), it's an argument based on experience. Boeing as a corporate behemoth has the experience in it history, but SpaceX has active experience in operating basically almost the same design right now, as we speak, and the capability was developed very recently, meaning that their capacity for new, cost-effective development is proven.

Boeing's design is a good design, and it is fairly conservative, so I would pick them ahead of the Dream Chaser, which has multiple things which make it a little more questionable, especially the hybrid propulsion. I bet SNC can do it, but I know Boeing can.
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Offline Lar

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Also, you're aware that if you're talking about a company that has a proven capability to launch, dock, reenter, and recover a space capsule, there's only a /single/ American company that does that right now, and they aren't

I think you meant berth rather than dock but that's a nit, I suppose.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online Robotbeat

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Also, you're aware that if you're talking about a company that has a proven capability to launch, dock, reenter, and recover a space capsule, there's only a /single/ American company that does that right now, and they aren't

I think you meant berth rather than dock but that's a nit, I suppose.
:) You got me. I was thinking about mentioning the distinction, but this slipped out. Regardless, although there's a fine distinction in the technical language of aerospace between dock and berth, my comment was intended to refer to the more general term for "dock," where this distinction doesn't exist.
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Offline Lar

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Also, you're aware that if you're talking about a company that has a proven capability to launch, dock, reenter, and recover a space capsule, there's only a /single/ American company that does that right now, and they aren't

I think you meant berth rather than dock but that's a nit, I suppose.
:) You got me. I was thinking about mentioning the distinction, but this slipped out. Regardless, although there's a fine distinction in the technical language of aerospace between dock and berth, my comment was intended to refer to the more general term for "dock," where this distinction doesn't exist.

Nod. And while Boeing has a lot of history with capsules, a lot of it retired years ago... you're right, neither Boeing or SNC have demonstrated all those things (or even close) *recently*.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline baldusi

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Also, you're aware that if you're talking about a company that has a proven capability to launch, dock, reenter, and recover a space capsule, there's only a /single/ American company that does that right now, and they aren't

I think you meant berth rather than dock but that's a nit, I suppose.
:) You got me. I was thinking about mentioning the distinction, but this slipped out. Regardless, although there's a fine distinction in the technical language of aerospace between dock and berth, my comment was intended to refer to the more general term for "dock," where this distinction doesn't exist.

Nod. And while Boeing has a lot of history with capsules, a lot of it retired years ago... you're right, neither Boeing or SNC have demonstrated all those things (or even close) *recently*.
I would clasify X-37B as at least close to it.

Offline yg1968

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Delta IV/Orion. (more likely than half of your options)

FH/Orion would be more likely IMO.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2014 01:23 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Maybe it's just me but I have a lot of trouble with the notion that the money should go to a competitor less interested in the advancement of the state of the art and less likely to continue if they don't get it and arguably less far along (despite what milestones are completed numerically).

Yes, this. For the last couple of decades, Boeing has been a contractor that wouldn't lift a finger unless it could bill the government for it. They appear to have put some skin in the game for CST-100, but old habits die hard.

Actually, Boeing hasn't put any skin in the game for CCiCap and for the prior rounds but they said that they intend to do so for the next round (CCtCap). The skin in the game milestones are usually called "financial milestones" in the SAAs.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2014 05:11 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Jim

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Also, you're aware that if you're talking about a company that has a proven capability to launch, dock, reenter, and recover a space capsule, there's only a /single/ American company that does that right now, and they aren't

I think you meant berth rather than dock but that's a nit, I suppose.
:) You got me. I was thinking about mentioning the distinction, but this slipped out. Regardless, although there's a fine distinction in the technical language of aerospace between dock and berth, my comment was intended to refer to the more general term for "dock," where this distinction doesn't exist.

Nod. And while Boeing has a lot of history with capsules, a lot of it retired years ago... you're right, neither Boeing or SNC have demonstrated all those things (or even close) *recently*.
I would clasify X-37B as at least close to it.

And Shuttle.  Boeing was the system integration and engineering support to USA

Offline joek

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Actually, Boieng hasn't put any skin in the game for CCiCap and for the prior rounds but they said that they intend to do so for the next round (CCtCap). The skin in the game milestones are usually called "financial milestones" in the SAAs.

Nit: We're not sure of Boeing's contribution to CCiCap, other than it was disappointingly small, per the selection statement "... does not provide significant industry financial investment and there is increased risk of having sufficient funding in the base period".

For CCtCap, NASA is asking for additional detail:

1. Milestones -- Each individual milestone for DDT&E/Certification must show "proposed price" (government contribution, i.e., what the government will pay), "offeror investment" (offeror contribution), ...  There are a few NASA-defined milestones; offerors may propose additional interim milestones.
Quote from: Attachment L-04 Price Template - CCtCap
1.  Offerors are to propose ISS DCR and Certification Review as Delivery Milestones.  All others are to be proposed as Interim Milestones. ...
2.  The Government pre-populated Milestone names (examples) on rows 11,18, and 25 above.  Offerors are to propose their Milestones (name of/number of/ and completion date of) commensurate with their CTS approach and bid strategy. ...

2. Lifecycle -- Offerors must show cumulative revenues, investment and expenditures--essentially a cash-flow projection showing the offeror's financial risk/exposure during the program.
Quote from: Attachment L-05 Life Cycle Template - CCtCap

As part of Life Cycle cost risk assessment, NASA seeks an understanding of the Offeror's proposed plan relative to investments (e.g. corporate commitments/available resources) and it's plan for full recovery and attainment of profitability.  The table below requests information which details:  (a) NASA payments to be provided based on the Offeror's proposed approach and payment schedule for Delivery and Interim Milestones, (b) the Offeror's committed investments to sustain contract performance in instances of timing and or limitations of NASA payments, (c) the Offeror's most realistic contract expenditure plan, and (d) a "declining total balance" of Offeror investment reflecting recovered and to be recovered investment and the attainment of profitability.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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If the Offerors are putting their own money into CCtCap then they will make a loss on the contract.  They have to hope to make their money on the flights to the ISS - a big risk.

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...The fanboy thing (by all factions) is pretty tiresome.

First time I've heard there is a Boeing fanboi faction.  Good to know that there is more than one fanboi faction acknowledged...  ;)

My premise staNds: Boeing has enjoyed far more success, objectively measured, than SpaceX, by far, and i don't dislike SpaceX at all. They are shaking up the industry and procurement in a vastly overdue way. But facts are facts. Many will view Boeing as the "safe choice" on a variety of criteria. Whethert hey are thec rigeria that will matter is another thing completely...

I think if you read Boeings stockholder report they would tell you that “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”.  And considering that Boeing hasn't built a crew spacecraft in decades, I'd argue that they don't have any special institutional experience.  In fact, it could be argued that it's not the name on the building that builds things, but the people inside of the buildings - and they can be hired away.

As to a "safe" choice, Boeing may well have name recognition going for them for non-space vehicles, but every flight that SpaceX makes with the Dragon cargo vehicle provides SpaceX with name recognition for real space vehicles.

However NASA shouldn't make choices based on non-technical reasons, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens later this year.  For the record, I think Sierra Nevada is in a stronger position versus Boeing than they were two years ago (though Boeing is clearly ahead in progress), and I think SpaceX is still the clear leader overall.  I think it's possible that if NASA is forced to down select to just two vehicles that they could choose SpaceX for the near-term capability, and Sierra Nevada for the long-term features that the Dream Chaser would provide over either of the capsules.  Probably less than a 50% chance of going this way, but still a possibility.
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 Jim

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1.   And considering that Boeing hasn't built a crew spacecraft in decades, I'd argue that they don't have any special institutional experience.

2.  As to a "safe" choice, Boeing may well have name recognition going for them for non-space vehicles, but every flight that SpaceX makes with the Dragon cargo vehicle provides SpaceX with name recognition for real space vehicles.

3.   For the record, I think Sierra Nevada is in a stronger position versus Boeing than they were two years ago

1.  And you would be wrong. What is the ISS?  And there was OSP. 

2.  They have it for X-37, ISS, and other spacecraft

3.  Base on what info?

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Which vehicle/Spacecraft combination did you vote for Jim?

Given the overwhelming votes for Falcon/Dragon I am indeed curious if you agree. If so why and if not why.

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1.  And you would be wrong. What is the ISS?  And there was OSP. 

2.  They have it for X-37, ISS, and other spacecraft

3.  Base on what info?

Boeing has over 160,000 employees, and not every employee knows how to build spacecraft.  And while there are commonalities between a crew capsule, an ISS module and an autonomous space plane, is Boeing using the same people to build all their space stuff?

But I have no doubt Boeing can build a safe spacecraft.  None.  But I also have no doubt that Sierra Nevada and SpaceX can build one either.  And none will be "perfect", since there is no such thing (as NASA has proved, despite $Billions and access to the best and the brightest).

As to #3, I thought Sierra Nevada was pretty far behind Boeing two years ago.  But I think their drop test did some major risk reduction, whereas Boeing isn't exactly speeding along.  If NASA wants diversity of choice as much as redundancy, then I think NASA might be willing to give Sierra Nevada a chance to keep going.  But I do admit that it's only a low probability...
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 arachnitect

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Boeing has over 160,000 employees, and not every employee knows how to build spacecraft.  And while there are commonalities between a crew capsule, an ISS module and an autonomous space plane, is Boeing using the same people to build all their space stuff?


I'm sure Boeing has the catering staff working on CST  ::)


As to #3, I thought Sierra Nevada was pretty far behind Boeing two years ago.  But I think their drop test did some major risk reduction, whereas Boeing isn't exactly speeding along.  If NASA wants diversity of choice as much as redundancy, then I think NASA might be willing to give Sierra Nevada a chance to keep going.  But I do admit that it's only a low probability...

Boeing has done recovery tests and is able to publish pictures of the results...

The CCP guys at NASA would be the first to tell you that SNC has much further to go than the other partners.

Offline Jim

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Boeing has over 160,000 employees, and not every employee knows how to build spacecraft.  And while there are commonalities between a crew capsule, an ISS module and an autonomous space plane, is Boeing using the same people to build all their space stuff?


Why wouldn't they?  That is why corporations have separate divisions to work different markets.

Offline yg1968

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Actually, Boieng hasn't put any skin in the game for CCiCap and for the prior rounds but they said that they intend to do so for the next round (CCtCap). The skin in the game milestones are usually called "financial milestones" in the SAAs.

Nit: We're not sure of Boeing's contribution to CCiCap, other than it was disappointingly small, per the selection statement "... does not provide significant industry financial investment and there is increased risk of having sufficient funding in the base period".


Thanks for the official reference. Incidentally, the amount of skin in the game among all three commercial crew providers is about 10% on average. See page 9 of the following PDF (page 5 of the document) from a September 2012 House Hearing:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg76234/pdf/CHRG-112hhrg76234.pdf

Quote from: House Hearing Statement
NASA's goal for the Commercial Crew Development program is to stimulate the aerospace industry to develop multiple, competitive, privately operated, human spaceflight vehicles and systems. Although the government is paying for about 90 percent(3) of this development, NASA will not own the vehicles or retain the designs, intellectual property, or data rights. Private entities will own and operate the vehicles and systems.

(Footnote 3): 90 percent is indicative of the approximate relative contribution of the Federal Government. The actual nongovernment cash or in-kind contributions of the commercial partners is proprietary information and varies by company, and may be greater or less than 10 percent of the total.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2014 05:59 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Krevsin

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I voted for Dream Chaser on top of an Atlas V. I do not have any real reasoning behind this bold claim other than "I think Dream Chaser looks pretty neat".

Terribly uncritical of me I know, but despite all evidence pointing towards the Dragon Rider/F9 combo, a small glimmer of hope persist for the Dream Chaser. And as they say: hope dies last.  :P
« Last Edit: 02/20/2014 05:48 pm by Krevsin »

Offline QuantumG

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Welcome to the forum Krevsin!
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Krevsin

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Thanks  :)

Anyway, I've given the matter some thought and despite the general conclusion still being that the DragonRider will be first, I could easily see the Dream Chaser as being the more desirable platform to the DragonRider, at least until SpaceX somehow develop a way to soft-land their capsule along with a return trajectory that does not expose its passengers to a significant amount of G forces.

Has a comparison thread for these newfangled crew vehicles been made on these forums before or is this supposed to be it?

Offline vt_hokie

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I'm inclined to agree that there's a lot to be said for a low-G reentry and a direct return to a facility via soft touchdown.  Reading Chris Hadfield's description of the Soyuz return in his recent book only added to my belief that a vehicle like Dream Chaser would be especially beneficial for returning long-term or potentially sick or injured ISS crew members.

Online Elmar Moelzer

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I'm inclined to agree that there's a lot to be said for a low-G reentry and a direct return to a facility via soft touchdown.  Reading Chris Hadfield's description of the Soyuz return in his recent book only added to my belief that a vehicle like Dream Chaser would be especially beneficial for returning long-term or potentially sick or injured ISS crew members.
IIRC, landings with Dragon are not supposed to be much more severe for the crew than landings with the DC, especially once it has propulsive landing.

Offline Krevsin

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I'm inclined to agree that there's a lot to be said for a low-G reentry and a direct return to a facility via soft touchdown.  Reading Chris Hadfield's description of the Soyuz return in his recent book only added to my belief that a vehicle like Dream Chaser would be especially beneficial for returning long-term or potentially sick or injured ISS crew members.
IIRC, landings with Dragon are not supposed to be much more severe for the crew than landings with the DC, especially once it has propulsive landing.
But doesn't Dragon's re-entry occur at a much higher angle than DC's, resulting in the crew experiencing more G forces?

Online Elmar Moelzer

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But doesn't Dragon's re-entry occur at a much higher angle than DC's, resulting in the crew experiencing more G forces?
I wished I could find the exact quote about this. From what I remember, the difference is rather small.

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Boeing has been and continues to be one of the most preeminent aerospace companies on the planet. Their decades of many epic accomplishments are feats of technological craftsmanship of the highest order,  whether civil, defense, space or air.

However, here's the question with regards to CC. The answer of which, may come to define the very nature of human space travel in our lifetime.

-Is what your doing in the pursuit of money or destiny?
« Last Edit: 02/22/2014 10:55 pm by rcoppola »
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Offline jtrame

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Boeing has been and continues to be one of the most preeminent aerospace companies on the planet. Their decades of many epic accomplishments are feats of technological craftsmanship of the highest order,  whether civil, defense, space or air.

However, here's the question with regards to CC. The answer of which, may come to define the very nature of human space travel in our lifetime.

-Is what your doing in the pursuit of money or destiny?

Boeing brings an intangible to the table that would be hard to put into words but should not be underestimated in the least.  The worth of a company is built over time and there are experts that can put a value on it (I'm definitely not one of those).  But the value exists nonetheless. My sense of this is that Boeing has an edge that can't be measured, but is very real.  Yes, it's not logical-- it just is. 


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Oh, boy. That's almost as bad as some of the SpaceX uber-fans. :)

EDIT: jtrame: noted
« Last Edit: 02/22/2014 11:47 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline jtrame

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Nonetheless, it exists.

Online Robotbeat

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Nonetheless, it exists.
It's simply a subjective quality that exists in some peoples' minds. :)

Poor form. There are lots of real, objective reasons why Boeing would be a good choice.
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Offline jtrame

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Of course there are. And the intangibles, which are undefinable, immeasurable, and probably political..  No argument from me, and no disrespect intended.  Definitely not a fan, and I'm probably just stating the obvious anyway. 

But for the record, the term "bois" is not good form either.  Look it up. 

Offline Krevsin

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Well the CST 100, unlike Dragon and DC, isn't breaking any significant new ground (other than its crew capacity) with the overall design, so it might remain a contender in the commercial spacecraft market because of how cheap and robust it might end up being.

It is based on information gathered from the Apollo capsule and none of its components are exactly ground-shattering in its innovation, which should make for a sturdy, robust vehicle which should be relatively inexpensive to manufacture. Its potential could also be improved if the capsule were made reusable.

Then again, the Dragon could also end up fairly cheap due to the sheer large scale of its manufacture.

Offline MP99

ISTM that electronics / avionics are one of the large development items (if not careful it can "eat your lunch") and SpaceX test the basis of theirs with every CRS flight.

Cheers, Martin

Offline Krevsin

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True, but Boeing does have a history of developing spacecraft that should decrease the amount of testing required, right?

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@ Krevsin,

Well, no. At the most, it prevents Boeing from committing 'rookie mistakes', so the likelihood of a wasted test that needs to be repeated because of an elementary engineering flaw is reduced. However, ultimately, CST-100 needs to achieve the same milestones as Dragonrider - working, reliable ECLSS, working LAS, flight stability, good spacecraft/LV interface, working docking system and the like.
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Online Robotbeat

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Well the CST 100, unlike Dragon and DC, isn't breaking any significant new ground (other than its crew capacity) with the overall design...
How so? Both use a liquid pusher abort system, so no difference there except CST's stages off before reentry while Dragon's doesn't. CST-100 uses airbag landing which is much more novel than Dragon's splashdown.

You are aware that the crewed Dragon won't be doing land-landing until later, right?

If anything, the Dragon design is more conservative for initial capability.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline sublimemarsupial

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Well the CST 100, unlike Dragon and DC, isn't breaking any significant new ground (other than its crew capacity) with the overall design...

You are aware that the crewed Dragon won't be doing land-landing until later, right?


Is there a definitive source for this? I remember several people on this forum and elsewhere stating Crew Dragon will be landing on land from the beginning, with the initial landings being under chutes with last second superdraco "cushioning" firings ala soyuz, with the long term evolutionary path being to purely propulsive landing. Splashdowns would only occur in an abort scenario.
« Last Edit: 02/23/2014 04:40 pm by sublimemarsupial »

Offline Krevsin

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Well the CST 100, unlike Dragon and DC, isn't breaking any significant new ground (other than its crew capacity) with the overall design...
How so? Both use a liquid pusher abort system, so no difference there except CST's stages off before reentry while Dragon's doesn't. CST-100 uses airbag landing which is much more novel than Dragon's splashdown.

You are aware that the crewed Dragon won't be doing land-landing until later, right?

If anything, the Dragon design is more conservative for initial capability.
Thanks for clearing that up.

Well, i guess there's no significant short-term differences other than the manufacturer/developer.

Offline joek

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Is there a definitive source for this? I remember several people on this forum and elsewhere stating Crew Dragon will be landing on land from the beginning, with the initial landings being under chutes with last second superdraco "cushioning" firings ala soyuz, with the long term evolutionary path being to purely propulsive landing. Splashdowns would only occur in an abort scenario.

The message has become a bit more nuanced over time.  Originally it was clearly "first on water, then some day on land"; then later a definitive (*cough*) "TBD".  (And not helped by some jumping to the conclusion that because a potential capability exists on day 1, that it will be exercised on day 1.)

From your favorite site, Dragon Roadmap: From domestic crew independence to humans on Mars:
Quote
Propulsive landing of the Dragon will be one of the key technologies used when SpaceX begin to fly crews on the spacecraft. However, the timing of the switch from water to ground landings will be negotiated between SpaceX and NASA.

“As we’ve noted in the past, future iterations of Dragon will have the ability to propulsively land. SpaceX certainly sees value in implementing a propulsive landing system prior to crew launches but timing for implementation will be something we discuss with NASA as they are the primary customer for both types of flights,” added Ms. Ra.

Offline baldusi

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This is like reusability on CRS-1. They have zero experience, so plan and price for the known quantity. If you get the capability later on, it can be negotiated.

Offline Orbiter

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My guess, not a bet: Falcon 9 with Dragon on a manned 3-day flight in early-2016.
« Last Edit: 02/23/2014 07:51 pm by Orbiter »
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo, Falcon 9 Es'hail-2.

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What is the likelihood or at least possibility that all three contenders will eventually fly? It is admittedly high speculation at this point, but i personally can see a POSSIBLE scenario where Boeing gets full funding for capsule (seen as the "safe" choice) in the near term and DC gets a partial award to continue development as the next generation and additional capability vehicle. DC presses ahead with additional private and European partnerships because of its exciting design.  SpaceX of course proceeds on crewed Dragon without NASA crew  for now, maybe working with other private partners, but takes the lead in future cargo resupply and eventually ends up providing the LV for Boeing due to cost advantages once it has more flight history on 9.1.1 -- thus becoming the most profitable and still leading edge provider of private space capability by forging a new business model for future space endeavors..
Again, just a scenario that appears to have some feasibility. Please refrain from the fanboy crapping on this conjecture and arm waving in favor if your preferred vehicle. This is admittedly a scenario. I am curious if others see opportunities for a three-way win for the major contenders and what that may look like in other possible scenarios.

Offline vt_hokie

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My optimism for DC definitely increased with the news of the Atlas V 2016 unmanned orbital launch.  Is Sierra Nevada the only one with an actual crewed vehicle already under construction at this stage? 
« Last Edit: 02/23/2014 10:53 pm by vt_hokie »

Offline Krevsin

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My optimism for DC definitely increased with the news of the Atlas V 2016 unmanned orbital launch.  Is Sierra Nevada the only one with an actual crewed vehicle already under construction at this stage?
Nope, Boeing and SpaceX seem to be well underway with the construction of their respective manned spacecraft.

Offline vt_hokie

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I certainly hope they all get a shot at orbital test flights at least then.  Nothing worse than cancelling a program after you've already started building the vehicles!
« Last Edit: 02/24/2014 06:47 am by vt_hokie »

Online Robotbeat

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We have 4 different domestic crew-capable spacecraft being actually built right now. That's pretty crazy, when you think about it.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Krevsin

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In its own way, it's sort of beautiful. Even if it has the potential of not turning out as well as I'd like it to.

Offline douglas100

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We have 4 different domestic crew-capable spacecraft being actually built right now. That's pretty crazy, when you think about it.

Yep. Never happened before. The nearest to this situation historically would be around 1963 or so, when both Gemini and Apollo were in development at the same time.
Douglas Clark

Offline dlapine

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It practically brings a tear to my eye that our reasonable discussion is about which human rated LV/combo will launch first, rather than will we have one at all.   :'(

Maybe this Commercial Crew program wasn't such a bad idea...

Anyways, Dragoncrew on F9 for me.

Offline vulture4

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Keep in mind that SpaceX accepts considerably more risk, at least on unmanned flights. An F9 could blow up. Musk has said as much. This could delay the first human flight on F9 for years.  However my fingers are crossed.

Offline saliva_sweet

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Keep in mind that SpaceX accepts considerably more risk, at least on unmanned flights. An F9 could blow up. Musk has said as much. This could delay the first human flight on F9 for years.  However my fingers are crossed.

What is this based on? The only thing that could possibly construed that way was a Musk tweet before Cassiope that said something like: this is a very new and different configuration so there's a significant risk of failiure. That's a statement of fact before the first flight of a new rocket. Very different from "my rockets may blow up, but I'm fine with that"

Offline bilbo

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 Were getting close!!! My bet, CST-100, Dragon

Offline wannamoonbase

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Were getting close!!! My bet, CST-100, Dragon

My bet is CST-100 and Dreamchaser.

My wish is Dragon and Dreamchaser.

Boeing is just too big and knows the game better than anyone.
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Yep. Never happened before. The nearest to this situation historically would be around 1963 or so, when both Gemini and Apollo were in development at the same time.

Five, counting the Lunar Module, X-15 and X-20.

Offline Rifleman

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Yep. Never happened before. The nearest to this situation historically would be around 1963 or so, when both Gemini and Apollo were in development at the same time.

Five, counting the Lunar Module, X-15 and X-20.

If you count X-15, you need to count SpaceShipTwo as well. We are still tied up.

Offline baldusi

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Yep. Never happened before. The nearest to this situation historically would be around 1963 or so, when both Gemini and Apollo were in development at the same time.

Five, counting the Lunar Module, X-15 and X-20.

If you count X-15, you need to count SpaceShipTwo as well. We are still tied up.
If you count SpaceShipTwo you should also count XCOR's Lynx, still one up ;-)

Offline Rifleman

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Yep. Never happened before. The nearest to this situation historically would be around 1963 or so, when both Gemini and Apollo were in development at the same time.

Five, counting the Lunar Module, X-15 and X-20.

If you count X-15, you need to count SpaceShipTwo as well. We are still tied up.
If you count SpaceShipTwo you should also count XCOR's Lynx, still one up ;-)

I stand corrected :) I actually think Lynx is going to carry paying passengers first at this point, so it definitely gets counted.

Offline JasonAW3

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Were getting close!!! My bet, CST-100, Dragon

My bet is CST-100 and Dreamchaser.

My wish is Dragon and Dreamchaser.

Boeing is just too big and knows the game better than anyone.

Not too sure about that.

     Dragon has already gone through a number of test points, up to and including reentry and recovery.  CST-100 hasn't gone that far yet.

     Dreamchaser has gone through a number of changes, but overall is still the same airframe and has already been landing tested and is slated for full flight test.  I think that the CST-100 has had about as much testing as Dreamchaser has gone through.

    It looks to me that Dragon is likely, as it is flight proven hardware.

     Dreamchaser and CST-100 are on the bubble, but most likely Dreamchaser would be the winner, as it has some capibilities that both CST-100 and Dragon both lack.

     Problem is; CST-100 has the Lock-Mart/Boeing muscle behind it while Dreamchaser has Sierra Nevada.

     SpaceX and Elon are pretty much media darlings and Lock-Mart/Boeing shutting them out would be the PR equivelent of going into a petting zoo to kick puppies and kittens.  VERY bad for the public image.

     The loss of the CST-100 contract from NASA wouldn't cripple Lock-Mart/Boeing, as they both have more than enough contracts both for aircraft and rockets, to make up for the loss of Government CST-100 contracts.  (Commercial CST-100 contracts would still be avaiulable, but they'd have to start finding ways of dramitically cutting costs to remain competative).
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F9/Dragon. From Pad 39A. (The Dream - December 2015.) (What I suspect - December 2016)


This seems the most likely and it was suggested before 39A was acquired by SpX  it is also the polls consensus.
 CST-100 hasn't even booked a ride. Anyone know the lead time for that?
DC is changing MPS although it has booked a ride.
What's the status on human rating for the Atlas V?

Offline JasonAW3

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Yep. Never happened before. The nearest to this situation historically would be around 1963 or so, when both Gemini and Apollo were in development at the same time.

Five, counting the Lunar Module, X-15 and X-20.

If you count X-15, you need to count SpaceShipTwo as well. We are still tied up.
If you count SpaceShipTwo you should also count XCOR's Lynx, still one up ;-)

Lynx still hasn't flown, let alone flown suborbital.
My God!  It's full of universes!

Online oiorionsbelt

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Yep. Never happened before. The nearest to this situation historically would be around 1963 or so, when both Gemini and Apollo were in development at the same time.

Five, counting the Lunar Module, X-15 and X-20.

If you count X-15, you need to count SpaceShipTwo as well. We are still tied up.
If you count SpaceShipTwo you should also count XCOR's Lynx, still one up ;-)

Lynx still hasn't flown, let alone flown suborbital.
Suborbital vehicles are off topic

Offline arachnitect

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Problem is; CST-100 has the Lock-Mart/Boeing muscle behind it while Dreamchaser has Sierra Nevada.

Lockheed is on the Dreamchaser team.

Offline yg1968

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Problem is; CST-100 has the Lock-Mart/Boeing muscle behind it while Dreamchaser has Sierra Nevada.

Lockheed Martin is not involved with the CST-100.

Offline king1999

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Russia is the wild card. The USG can't afford to rely on Russia for the Atlas V. F9/Falcon is a sure bet. Next would be a tie between CST-100 and DC. DC is a fan favorite and may well beat CST-100, you never know.
I would pick F9/Falcon and DC.

Online oiorionsbelt

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I would pick F9/Falcon and DC.

That would be an absolute shocker! :)

Offline tesla

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Hi! I haven't been following this for some time, so has there already been a date set for the commercial crew down select announcement?  ???
Go SLS and Orion! God bless America.

Offline SWGlassPit

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Sometime this month ... in theory.

They said August or "early" September. I'd say we are already past "early" September.

Offline JasonAW3

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I'm thinking that most likely SpaceX will be one of the contractors, as they have already flown the majority of the hardware that they plan on using.

Dreamchaser appears to be pretty much a hardware agnostic system, but has yet to be sent even off of a pad abort test, (Same could be said of the Dragon, but that's already scheduled for later this year) nor has it actually been cycled into space, docked with the ISS and returned safely with a cargo.  This also applies to both the Boeing design, but as they have already build and flown past man-rated equipment, this gives them a leg up in experience, but the ciosts of their craft are likely to be higher than the Dreamchaser, as Boeing will likely try to recoup their R&D costs up front, while Sierra Nevada Corporation are likely to spread the R&D costs into the per unit cost of their space crafts over a longer term.  While these too are designed for reuse, how many they CAN be reused is currently open to question.

     So, having two similar craft to do the same job. is a good thought, but If NASA is looking to have lower reentry Gee forces, wider cross range and the ability to pretty much land at most commercial and many private airfields.  The CST-100  is primariliy a ground to LEO orbital taxi and back again.  The CST-100 was designed primarily to use Atlas, Titan or Arian rockets.  Whether or not it can use the F9 or other Launch Vehicles has not been fully explored yet.

     While I suspect that SpaceX is almost an assured vendor for Manned Spaceflight services, I still think that it is a tossup between SNC and Boeing, with SNC having a slight edge for using a lifting body design.
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Offline vt_hokie

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I think maybe it's time for a when will NASA announce its commercial crew winners poll! 

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