Judgement Day

According to a NASA press release, the space agency will formally announce the winners in the next phase of the Commercial Crew Transportation program at 9:00 AM EDT on Friday, August 3rd. The announcement will be held at the OSB-II building, with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, KSC Director Robert Cabana and Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango present, with a press conference to follow.

Participating teams will likely be privately notified on Thursday

It’s difficult to overemphasize just how critical the results will be in determining the near term future of American spaceflight, and it bears repeating that alone among participants, SpaceX is the only entry which offers an evolution towards future re-usability. While Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin are both “Newspace” companies as well, their respective dependence on the Atlas V launch vehicle restricts the ability to make any impact on the cost basis of crewed flight.   In looking at the likely budget profile for commercial crew flights,  barring an overall budget increase, SpaceX is the only option which fits within the current profile.

If nothing else, we are going to learn a great deal about NASA’s mindset at the current time, and whether or not the lessons of the COTS program and CRS have sunk in to the upper levels of agency management.

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