NASA has awarded ISS materials transportation contracts to three agencies. These happen to be: Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX.
NASA has chosen the big three. It will be awarding a trio of contracts to reliable space agencies for the conveyance of cargo to the ISS. These are: Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX.
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This is a preliminary step in the ultimate goal which is a journey to Mars. The whole initiative was started by President Obama. He declared five years ago that NASA will be working in conjunction with other companies to make sending and resending supplies to outer space a cinch.
The purpose of this venture was also to make the resupply of cargo in space an economically viable enterprise. Today, almost half a decade later, we can nod our heads in the affirmative that over 35,000 pounds of cargo has been supplied to the inhabitants of the ISS.
The President of the United States sure has done a good job at furthering the race for space. Each of the three supplier companies will be engaging in six cargo resupply missions. There are also various other tasks that will get accomplished via this plan.
“Few would have imagined back in 2010 when President Barack Obama pledged that NASA would work ‘with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable,’ that less than six years later we’d be able to say commercial carriers have transported 35,000 pounds of space cargo (and counting!) to the International Space Station -- or that we’d be so firmly on track to return launches of American astronauts to the ISS from American soil on American commercial carriers. But that is exactly what is happening,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Today's announcement is a big deal that will move the president’s vision further into the future.”
This is the second major attempt at commercial cargo services to spacecrafts orbiting around the earth. After employing the services of space agencies, the ISS which is a lab of sorts may be used extensively in space exploration.
Many supply agencies that cater to NASA are the ideal setup for venturing out of our comfort zone on earth. The choices we now have are double the amount they were before. All the activities that are to take place in outer space will be integrated too.
“The second generation of commercial cargo services to low-Earth orbit begins today,” said Kirk Shireman, ISS Program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“By engaging American companies for cargo transportation, we can focus our attention on using this one-of-a-kind laboratory in the sky to continue advancing scientific knowledge for the benefit of all humanity.”
These resupply services will occur in synch with the Commercial Crew Program. The staff of the ISS will thus have more time to carry out their experiments in space. A number of issues will get resolved through this new mission.
“These resupply flights will be conducted in parallel with our Commercial Crew Program providers’ flights that enable addition of a seventh astronaut to the International Space Station. This will double the amount of crew time to conduct research,” said Julie Robinson, chief scientist for the ISS Program.
“These missions will be vital for delivering the experiments and investigations that will enable NASA and our partners to continue this important research.”
The contracts have a value of $14 billion each. And they will last from 2016 to 2024. NASA will be calling all the shots. This whole enterprise will radically transform the way NASA does business in the future.
It’s been a decade and a half since human beings have been journeying to the ISS. Now that element is about to change in a major way and for the better.
“We plan to order services based on our current estimates of station needs, which provides NASA important flexibility to maximize the use of the space station,” said Shireman.
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“We look forward to beginning work with these new contractors to understand the details of the services that they have proposed and understand the details of how these services will benefit ISS. The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract enables us to adjust as necessary for additional missions or contingencies so we can provide the greatest benefits possible from this great international asset.”