The COTS Hearings

Based on the Twitter feed, it looks like the committee continue to be (as Michael Mealling tweets) asshats, but at least it was an opportunity for Gwynne to explain costs to them. There are lies, damned lies, and Congressional cost estimates (note in comments at the link “Edgar”‘s analysis — I wonder if that’s Edgar Zapata?). I’ll be curious to see Jeff Foust’s report later, though we probably won’t see it until Monday, at The Space Review.

[Update a few minutes later]

More on the cooked books from Keith Cowing. I’m guessing the culprit is Ken Monroe, head staffer.

12 thoughts on “The COTS Hearings”

  1. The point of CRS is that it offers a lower total yearly program cost than the Shuttle:

    CRS: 5 years, 3.5 billion total, ~700 million a year

    Shuttle: 5 years, 15 billion total, 3000 million a year

    If Shuttle had to live on 700 million a year, it would deliver zero cargo, for a price per pound of infinity.

    If CRS was being procured at the same rate as they project for Shuttle, 64mt a year, not 8mt, then the per pound cost would be less, since program costs would be spread over more missions. If the Shuttle was servicing only 8mt of demand a year, its per pound costs would be higher.

  2. Did I see a certain condescending attitude by our representatives at the hearing?

  3. *correction to my correction, its ~8mt for CRS per year, ~4mt per provider, I apologize for the mixup.

  4. Well, that was over three years ago. All I know is that he complimented me on A Space Program for the Rest Of Us a year and a half ago, and thought that I’d gotten it pretty much right.

  5. The hearing starts with some reasonable points against NASA… the award of CRS contracts without first completing COTS demonstration flights always struck me as a “commit NASA before the administration change” move. NASA seems to have this sort of problem all the time..

  6. Interesting, I wouldn’t have expected that. And of course I’m all for such conversions!

  7. SpaceX indicates on their website that the Dragon has a payload capacity of 6000kg (13228 lb). For quite a while I’ve heard people suggest that this value includes the 1290kg (2844 lb) of propellant. Gwynne’s testimony today indicates that they are *wrong*, but they’ll never see it that way.

    The problem is that the Falcon 9 user manual lists the payload to the ISS orbit at 9358kg, which means the Dragon has a dry mass of around 2068kg (4559 lb). This is considered too awesome for old space minds to comprehend.

  8. Trent,

    I have seen 4-tons for the Dragon capsule, 3 tons for the internal payload carried inside the capsule, over 1.2-ton for fuel, and ~ 1 ton for the trunk with the solar panels. The Dragon can probably carry another 3-tons of external cargo in the trunk section or extra fuel or water in the the tanks for a 6-ton maximum payload capability.

    The over 1.2-ton of fuel would give the Dragon the delta-V capability (of ~ 350 m/s) to safely maneuver a 12-ton Dragon to the ISS and back down for reentry, so if you subtract the 4-tons for the capsule, the 1.2-ton of fuel, and the 1-ton for the trunk, then you get a maximum of 6-tons of cargo to the ISS.

    You have to watch out for quoting Falcon 9 payload numbers, because they probably include a multi-ton adjustment for the the heavy payload fairing, and the Dragon launches on Falcon 9 without a payload fairing. It is also common for the rocket to place the spacecraft into a non-circular orbit that will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere in less than one orbit without delta-V being used by the Dragon, so a few additional tons may be placed into this lower non-orbit by a Falcon 9.

    I think that most of the SpaceX ISS flights for CRS are a little over 2-tons of cargo, so the Dragon will weigh ~ 8.5 tons which is the oft-quoted SpaceX weight for the passenger carrying version of Dragon. The fuel and escape thrusters for for the passenger carrying Dragon may add up to another 3-tons but that is another issue.

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