SpaceX is off to a strong start in 2017 with a very successful launch of Iridium-1 and a promising next few weeks. I also discuss the very interesting story developing between NASA, Boeing, and Russia regarding Soyuz flights to the ISS.
Assuming the next three launches hold their date, SpaceX will hit their target cadence of once every two weeks right off the bat. Iridium-1 on January 14, EchoStar 23 on January 26, CRS-10 on February 8, SES-10 on February 22. Those are gaps of 12 days, 13 days, and 14 days, respectively.
Energia owes Boeing $320 million plus legal fees. Most recently, Roscosmos sold NASA six Soyuz seats for $81.7 million each. If Boeing were to sell these seats to NASA for the same price, they’d get just over $408 million in payment. It’s a very odd way to get the money they’re owed, but it’ll work.
Moon Express is fully-funded for their first mission to the Moon. I can’t wait to see how Rocket Lab does this year. It will be a seriously impressive feat if they launch 8 times this year—all on or close to schedule—and get Moon Express off by December.
There’s clearly a split over this topic within NASA and their advisory groups. My guess is that “load and go” is going to win out in the end. If SpaceX can put together a strong, reliable 2017, with the above report from NASA’s Safety Technical Review Board in hand, this issue could be put to bed once and for all.
While we don’t yet have hard details on which direction NASA programs are headed during the Trump administration, we have started to get some hints. The leadership of the Congressional subcommittees that NASA depends on will be largely unchanged, and Boeing and SpaceX were each promised 4 more Commercial Crew flights. I also talk a little bit about how the Air Force One and F-35 situations apply to NASA programs.
Thanks to sghill over on the NASASpaceFlight forums who uploaded the Supplemental Environmental Assessment for SpaceX’s LZ-1 expansion plans. There are some really nice details hidden among a lot of boring details. Head over to the post if you want to download the full PDF.
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