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Updated: Which Commercial Crew spacecraft should NASA choose? Answer: One with a toilet

4 May 2012, 10:16 UTC
Updated: Which Commercial Crew spacecraft should NASA choose? Answer: One with a toilet
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While under financial pressure from the US Senate and US House of Representatives to pick only one winner for commercial crew program’s next Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) phase in August (the US Senate and the House plans to cap commercial crew spending at circa $500 million during the Fiscal year 2013) NASA remains resolute that it wants to choose more than one crew launch system. Without true competition, NASA warns that crew launch purchase costs will inevitably rise.

The administration hints that it may yet decide to proceed with all four competitors: Boeing Co., Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Sierra Nevada Corp., and Blue Origin. Neverthless, the likelihood remains is that NASA will select just two to go forward. Without this down-select, its funding may be too diluted to be an effective subsidy to the winning firms. UPDATE: In early June, an agreement with Congress set funding at $525 million and allowed NASA is to select two companies to get a full award and one to get a partial award.

Of the four main competitors, Sierra Nevada offers its Dream Chaser NASA HL-20-derived mini-shuttle/lifting body design which has the flexibility of glider style landings. ...

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