NASA proposes final extension of ISS cargo contracts

WASHINGTON — NASA is proposing extending three present contracts to move cargo to and from the Worldwide Area Station by means of the anticipated finish of the station in 2030, quite than recompete them.

In a March 2 procurement notice, NASA stated it supposed to subject sole-source extensions of its Industrial Resupply Companies (CRS) 2 contracts with Northrop Grumman, Sierra Area and SpaceX. These extensions would cowl missions from January 2027 by means of December 2030. NASA has beforehand introduced its intent to finish the ISS program and transition to industrial house stations by 2030.

NASA didn’t state within the discover why it was extending the contracts quite than holding a brand new competitors. The discover provides corporations proposing to supply various cargo autos till March 17 to offer NASA with details about their capabilities in order that NASA can determine whether or not to carry an open competitors or subject the extensions.

NASA awarded these three corporations CRS-2 contracts in 2016 to offer cargo supply as a successor to the unique CRS contracts to Orbital Sciences (now a part of Northrop) and SpaceX. Every firm was assured at the very least six missions underneath the contract, with the power for NASA to order extra.

In March 2022, NASA announced it had ordered six additional missions each from Northrop and SpaceX, bringing the entire ordered so far to 14 from Northrop and 15 from SpaceX. NASA has formally ordered solely three Dream Chaser missions from Sierra Area, though the corporate says it should fly at the very least seven missions underneath its CRS-2 contract, the primary of which is scheduled for later this yr on the second Vulcan Centaur launch.

NASA didn’t disclose the worth of these further missions, stating on the time that pricing data on these contracts is “contractor confidential information.” In keeping with procurement databases, NASA has obligated about $2.2 billion so far to Northrop, $1.1 billion to Sierra Area and $2.35 billion to SpaceX.

It’s unclear if any firm can be inquisitive about bidding on a brand new CRS competitors, given the brief length of the contract. Boeing provided a model of its CST-100 Starliner industrial crew automobile within the unique CRS-2 competitors, however NASA did not consider it in the final phase of proposal evaluations. Lockheed Martin additionally submitted a CRS-2 proposal however NASA decided it was not within the “aggressive vary” for this system and dropped it earlier within the analysis section.

Each Northrop and SpaceX are getting ready for his or her subsequent cargo missions to the ISS within the coming weeks. At a March 2 briefing after the launch of the Crew-6 industrial crew mission, Dina Contella, NASA ISS operations integration supervisor, stated NASA was planning a mid-March launch of the subsequent cargo Dragon mission, SpX-27, a date that may depend upon the departure of the Crew-5 Crew Dragon spacecraft from the station, releasing up the docking port the cargo Dragon will use.

She stated that can be adopted by the departure of the NG-18 Cygnus spacecraft, which has been at the station since November, and the launch of the NG-19 Cygnus tentatively scheduled for April. The NG-19 launch would be the final of the present model of the Antares rocket as Northrop works with Firefly Aerospace on a brand new model that does away with the Ukrainian-built first stage and Russian engines. Whereas that new Antares automobile is in improvement, Northrop plans to launch three Cygnus spacecraft on SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.


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