Thursday, 18 October, 2018

NASA needs backup plan as USA crew launches slip

Report NASA needs backup plan as US crew launches slip NASA needs backup plan as USA crew launches slip
Sandra Phillips | 15 July, 2018, 15:20

The report goes on to state, "Further delays are likely as the Commercial Crew Program's schedule risk analysis shows that the certification milestone is likely to slip". The Associated Press says the US has paid Moscow up to $82 million a seat for the ride into orbit. NASA officials told the GAO they believe those dates are also likely to change, the report says. Right now, both SpaceX and Boeing are working independently to meet that demand, but a new report from the Government Accountability Office reveals that neither of them are as far along as they should be, and that's not great news to USA astronauts.

The report said the United States could seek to obtain additional Soyuz seats but that may prove hard.

Commercial crew astronauts began in April conducting fully suited exercises and simulations inside mock-ups of both SpaceX and Boeing spacecraft. "As a result, NASA is managing a multibillion-dollar program without confidence in its schedule information as it approaches several big events, including uncrewed and crewed flight tests". The availability dates for Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon have been slipping each year.

NASA accepted other recommendations in the report, including the development of a contingency plan for ISS access if there are further crew delays.

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In 2014, NASA had awarded two firm-fixed-price contracts to Boeing and SpaceX, worth a combined total of up to $6.8 billion, to develop crew transportation systems and transport astronauts to the ISS. Certification is the process that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will use to ensure that each contractor's system meets its requirements for human spaceflight for the Commercial Crew Program.

It was also recommended by GAO that in its quarterly reports to Congress, NASA should also comprise their own schedule analysis risk. The certification is necessary for NASA to confirm that the systems are suitable for taking humans into space. As well, NASA must "clarify how it will determine its risk tolerance for loss of crew" on the ISS. GAO provided a chart comparing how the the agency certification process, the CCP program office, the contracts with the companies, and NASA's SMA Office set the requirement, whether the updated or former debris model is used, and whether mitigation measures are taken into account. NASA originally projected the commercial crew program would be up and running in 2017.

In today's report, GAO said "w$3 e have found that having the same individual simultaneously fill both a technical authority role and a program role created an environment of competing interests" that undermines impartial and objective assessment. NASA agreed and said it would complete that action by the end of August.

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