Commercial Crew Selection Statement

NASA announced the winners of the Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities round on August 3rd.  A selection statement released recently provides more insight into the decision and gives us some idea what to look for as this round progresses. The statement, which can be found here, outlines the strengths and weaknesses of each of the four proposals from ATK, Sierra Nevada, Boeing and SpaceX. The proposals were evaluated separately on technical and business merits. It should come as no surprise that even after a late push, the ATK Liberty proposal was rated as significantly weaker than the other three based on the lack of technical data regarding overall plans for integration, and the perceived likelihood of cost growth and schedule delays resulting from an unrealistically aggressive schedule.

What is perhaps most interesting is the one significant “ding” on the Boeing proposal. Rated very high on the technical merits, the Boeing plan was questioned due to the lack of sufficient financial committment.  Given that Boeing is a far larger corporation than any of the other competitors (including ATK) it tends to reinforce the idea that as one of the aerospace “primes” it is not going to do any more than it absolutely has to without being paid for the effort. and at the end of the day always expects the government to step in and pick up the tab for cost overruns.  Consequently, it will be very interesting to see what happens when it is time to schedule and fund ascent abort test which Boeing withdrew from its proposal several months ago.

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