NASA Issues RFI for Commercial Supply to ISS for 2017-2024

Opportunities Abound Credit : SpaceX

Opportunities Abound
Credit : SpaceX

On Friday, NASA published a request for information  (RFI) regarding the next round of ISS supply services to be purchased under the Commercial Resupply Services Program- CRS.  This round is expected to last from 2017 all the way to 2024, provided Congress and the International Partners agree on a proposal put forward by the Obama Administration to extend the life of the outpost four more years from the current line at 2020.

Among the more relevant details outlined in the RFI are requirements for 14,250 – 16,750 kg. per year both upmass and downmass/return of pressurized cargo, and an additional 1,500 – 4,000 kg per year of unpressurized cargo. NASA would also prefer to establish a regular launch cadence of January, April, June and October each year, with an occasional additional flight scheduled in August.

Of particular interest, the RFI specifies that cargo craft may either be berthed, which is what occurs with both the SpaceX Dragon and Orbital Sciences Cygnus at present, or docked, which would be the method  by whoever wins the entirely separate Commercial Crew competition.

This is just the first step in what should prove to be a fascinating, and hugely influential step determining the next decade in space. If the life of ISS is extended, the second round of the very successful CRS program offers more than 30 launch opportunities. Even split two or three ways, it is enough to have a major impact on each of the companies involved. For Orbital Sciences in particular, the advent of a new round of competition becomes a powerful argument for lost business opportunity in its lawsuit against United Launch Alliance of access to the RD-180 engine.

And for SpaceX, it represents yet another slate of flights in which to try and achieve/perfect first stage return and re-use.

Responses are due March 21st.

About the Author:

Post a Comment