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NASA Watchmen Report Exacerbates Debate over SpaceX vs. Boeing Spaceships

Boeing is online to receive much more on-site payments from SpaceX for astronaut trips to the International Space Station, in part because it has contracted an increase in what was to be a fixed-price contract, NASA's Office of the Inspector General says in guardian report.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1

.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "The 53 page report published Thursday, estimates the cost of one seat for a Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule at $ 90 million, which would be more than $ 84 million or so for NASA to pay Russians for the rides of their Soyuz spacecraft "SpaceX Crew Dragon's cap space cost, by contrast, was estimated at $ 55 million." Data-reactid = "32"> The 53-page report, released Thursday, estimates the cost of a single Boeing capsule flight CST-100 Starliner and 90 million dollars, which would be more than 84 million dollars or about NASA pay the Russians for rides on their space ship "Soyuz". In contrast, SpaceX Crew Dragon's capsule seat price was estimated at $ 55 million.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "In response, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote that " this does not look right ". He said that " it is not fair Boeing gets so much for the same thing. "" data-reactid = "33"> In response, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote that " this does not look right ." He said that " it is not fair that Boeing receives so much for the same thing. "

Meanwhile, Boeing has been dealing with the problem of calculating figures. And while officials charged with the program NASA's sales teams, who generally accepted the report's findings, said the Boeing's increased payout was fairly negotiated.

The Inspector General's report drew criticism for cost overruns and scheduling delays in developing commercial space taxis. astronauts to and from the space station NASA had to rely on the Russians for such rides after the space shuttle fleet departed in 2011.

Crew Dragon and Starliner first crew flights have been two years behind schedule and the report says that "definitive Vehicle Certification for both contractors is likely to be delayed by summer 2020 based on the number of ISS and CCP certification requirements that remain to be verified and validated. "

The certification will come after the initial rigged demonstration flights for both spacecraft,

The report states that NASA may need to reduce personnel in the orbital segment of the US station in 2020 due to delays – state things that would also affect Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts.

In a letter in response to the report, Ken Bowersoks, a former astronaut who is an acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations, says NASA is already negotiating ing with the Russians for more seats on the Union as an insurance policy.

The report acknowledges that delays arose from technical challenges with parachutes, propulsion systems, and the launch of abortion systems – but this has confused NASA executives with how they have addressed these challenges. "Taken together, these factors can increase the risk of significant damage to the system or lead to a further delay in the commencement of commercial flights by the crew to the ISS," the report said.

The Office of the Inspector General of NASA made this comparison of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon transportation systems based on an analysis of NASA information. The average cost per site is calculated by accepting four astronauts on a spacecraft and using publicly available information. (NASA OIG Graphic)

Boeing-related actions have been called for special criticism. NASA's initial contracts called for Boeing to receive $ 4.82 billion for Starliner development, while SpaceX was allocated $ 3.14 billion for Crew Dragon development. But the report says that in 2016, NASA agreed to pay Boeing $ 287.2 million over the pre-agreed fixed price to cope with the accepted 18-month flight difference for four crew missions, beginning with the third flight .

Part of the justification was "to ensure that the company continues to be the second commercial crew supplier," the report said. In fact, the report quoted unnamed NASA senior officials as saying that Boeing would not continue working on Starliner unless it received more money.

According to reviewers, most of the increased payouts were unnecessary, as NASA had other ways

The reviewers also justified NASA's managers because they found that "SpaceX did not provide an opportunity to propose a solution, though the company offers shorter production times than Boeing. "

In his letter, Bowersox stated that NASA is following the recommendations of the report to strengthen oversight of the Sales Team Program. But he disputes the claim that Boeing's increased payment is unnecessary or unreasonable.

"NASA understands OIG [Office of the Inspector General] believes that NASA could negotiate better prices for PCMs [post-certification missions]. However, this is an opinion, three years after the fact, and there is no evidence to support the conclusion that Boeing would agree to lower prices, "he writes.

In response to inquiries, Boeing and SpaceX issued statements on the Report. to say SpaceX:

" SpaceX and NASA worked closely together, applying everything we learned from extensive testing and analysis to improve our systems and ensure that Crew Dragon was one of the most the safest, most reliable spacecraft ever built, nothing more important to our company than h human space flight and we expect to safely fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station beginning early next year. "

And here is a statement from Boeing discussing the price discussion:

" We disagree with this assessment of The purpose of the Commercial Crew Program is to offer safe, reliable and redundant access to NASA and international partner astronauts and to promote long-term commercial access to low Earth orbit. The PCMs 3-6 pricing changes offered NASA additional flexibility and resilience and significantly shortened the mission cycle from 32 months to launch after being granted a Continued Authorization (ATP), and now allows Boeing to offer two CST- 100 Starliner a year. In addition, Boeing also flies the equivalent of a fifth passenger to NASA, so one-seat pricing should be considered based on five seats.

"Through honest and open negotiations with our client in a competitive environment, we have offered NASA's Extra Flexibility and Resilience Schedule to improve future mission readiness by offering single-mission pricing for PCMs 3-6, which were included in the price table in the original contract. This flexibility means that Boeing is taking significantly more up-front financial risks and is already helping NASA with critical decisions critical to optimizing future ISS operations. Achieving this in the structure of the original contract would increase cost uncertainty and timetable and limit NASA's flexibility in mission planning. This also facilitates shorter NASA execution times and provides greater flexibility in adjusting launch dates within that time. Now Boeing also holds all past mission costs that NASA will not have to pay until each mission is officially ordered and made available to the Continuing Authority (ATP). ”

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