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SpaceX won the NASA team competition before months, for fewer bills

The International Space Station is due to be joined by Crew Space SpaceX in March, 2019.
Enlarge / The International Space Station is due to be joined by Crew Space SpaceX in March, 2019.


Nearly five years ago, NASA had a difficult decision. The organization had spent about $ 1.5 billion to help Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada by managing a railway track that US astronauts could carry to the International Space Station. During his efforts to build aircraft hardware, NASA was ready to choose just two suppliers to move on – both to generate a healthy competition and to gain entry into the room. T .

NASA had a total of $ 7 billion to distribute to the winning companies to complete their space development, bring together the rockets, and each aircraft up to six campaigns after NASA's vehicles came up. T prove a very good place.

In public, some of Boeing's officers were rejecting SpaceX, emphasizing his own blue legacy. Boeing has been working closely with NASA dating back to 1961 and the first stage of Saturn V. On the other hand, Boeing would say Elon Musk was more interested in flashy marketing and that it is t has never met its publication aims. "We're going for a thing," said John Elbon, the head of Boeing's space department at the time. "There is no pizzazz."

Behind the work, Boeing was pushing hard to win it all of the funding for the NASA trading team program, and the company encouraged NASA to go with the safe option over new people visiting spaceflight SpaceX and Sierra Nevada. "We were striving to keep two suppliers as great in Transport, lobbyists, and some in NASA struggled to select the election to Boeing," which brought in one well-known government source. T process.

In the end, the NASA chieftain of human space lighting, William Gerstenmaier, two suppliers, Boeing and SpaceX. This has taken a prudent decision on cost and timeframes. He also gives a suitable lesson such as an NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine discusses new ways of bringing people back to the moon with a reasonable budget and table.

Costs of costs

As for cost, NASA is getting better paid by SpaceX. "Seat prices" may be the amount of money NASA pays to take one of its astronomers to the International Space Station. In recent years, since the space shuttle in 2011, NASA has paid Russia, as well as $ 81.8 million each seat.

NASA seldom spoke of a “seat price” for an commercial team. Indeed, it only appeared at meetings of the conference, when Gerstenmaier gave a quote of $ 58 million. “Accepting that all 12 missions are bought and flying a two-a-year rate, the average average for a commercial team is $ 58 million,” he said in 2015.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, right, and commander of Boeing's place, John Elbon in front of Starliner in 2012. "src =" -4600_large -980x653.jpg "width =" 980 "height =" 653
Enlarge / NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, right, and commander of Boeing space John Elbon, in front of Starliner in 2012.


However, this number does not show what NASA pays Boeing and SpaceX respectively. According to the US Government Accounting Office, three commercial funding lines are in place: t Line 001 will for development and trial, t line line 002 for service services, and Line 003 will do for the purposes of specific examinations, examinations, and analysis. To find out what price is per seat, we need to know value line line 002 then divide the number of seats each time (four) and trips (up to six).

Neither the organization nor the companies have disclosed the values ​​in public Line 001 will no line line 002. But we can make a good estimate. With the removal Line 003 will do (up to $ 150 million for each company), including the total value of the contracts, and using NASA's own average value of "seat price", we can return to full value t line line 002: $ 2.784 billion. This is then the total amount NASA pays for 12 work visits to the space station from 2020 to 2024, or a total of 48 sets from the two companies.

Now, for its last step: in general, NASA brought $ Boeing to $ 4.2 billion to its commercial crew contract and SpaceX $ 2.6 billion. If this proportion of funding is excluded line line 002which is more detailed or detailed in NASA level, NASA's seat prices are paying Boeing and SpaceX very different. According to this survey, NASA paid Boeing about $ 71.6 million each Starliner seat and SpaceX $ 44.4 million every Dragon seat.

Why does NASA pay a lot for Boeing? This company might have asked. As part of this competition, SpaceX is introducing a low price because it thought the group would put priority on lower prices. “I knew I could submit more later, after that, I'm sure I would be willing to submit more,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, about the price difference. This took place in 2018. In total, the competition to run the SpaceX competition to offer a lower price.


Despite less money from NASA and less knowledge of space space, SpaceX seems to be providing a faster team ability. The California-based company has been involved in the NASA final once again, and is now working on the final trial which would allow their crew tour this year, possibly earlier in October.

Boeing, on the other hand, won't send away the first unprecedented exhibition mission until at least August, and NASA has confessed that this date can go back again. One disappointing sign for Boeing is that the company is still not conducting a pad-stop-check test when the Starliner emergency escaping system is blocked from the start button to ensure the captain can get away to Rocket after a rocket is launched.

The trial was originally organized for June 2018 but was delayed because of that anomaly in that month's hot fire test on the excavators. After this accident, Boeing never publicly announced a report in Ars near a month later, the company said, "We are confident that we will find the cause and are moving forward with action. T correction. "But, 10 months after the event, Boeing is not now" getting ready to resume "a campaign that ends with some time back stopping.

SpaceX has technical challenges with rocket Falcon 9 and Dragon parachute, but now it appears that it has delivered NASA merchandise before Boeing several months, for less money. It seems reasonable to be sending a plane to the area before Boeing starts on a Starliner demo trip. If NASA had given Boeing a one-off contract for a commercial crew, it would not only have been to have one provider with a higher price, it may have to wait longer for that product.

This is clearly impacting on NASA, as it looks to increase the light of the world from lowland to deep ground. If the complaint is heavy on the moon before 2024, there are many contracts in place for it to be lifted: for Gateway modules, for parts of the moon, for space cover, and for rockets for all of its products. introduction to lunch. The lesson from a commercial team is that there is good competition among good suppliers, prices may be lower because of commercial contracts, and just as a company has a long history of space growth t This means that they will be better than new children on the block.

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