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Calling all space truckers?

Posted by: erikm - Tue Feb 08, 2005 8:25 pm
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Calling all space truckers? 
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Post Calling all space truckers?   Posted on: Tue Feb 08, 2005 8:25 pm
Reading this, it's a pity the Falcon V isn't anywhere near flight ready yet. There might be money to be made bidding for flights.

Quote:
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6979

NASA seeks help with space station cargo

* 12:05 08 February 2005
* NewScientist.com news service
* Kelly Young

NASA is seeking to off-load some of the cargo-carrying duties required to complete the International Space Station to commercial spacecraft. In the US president's budget proposal for 2006, released on Monday, NASA gets $160 million to find alternatives to the space shuttles.

Initially, NASA had planned to fly 28 more shuttle flights to complete the building of the ISS. However, the space agency now intends to retire the shuttle fleet by 2010, so managers are trying to find ways to minimise the number of shuttle flights to the station.

The largest modules of the space station have to be carried into orbit by the shuttle because no other launcher is large enough to carry them. But before the Columbia shuttle disaster in February 2003, several shuttle flights per year were devoted to hauling smaller items such as food, water, clothing, science experiments and spare parts.

With the shuttle fleet currently grounded, the ISS is completely reliant on Russian supply ships launching on time. Later in 2005, the European Space Agency will make the first test flight of its Automated Transfer Vehicle, a cargo ship designed to supplement the Russian Progress ship. The Japanese space agency, NASDA, is also working on another uncrewed supply ship, the H-2 Transfer Vehicle, scheduled for a 2007 launch.
Shuttle replacement

But NASA is looking for more alternatives to supply the station. "We're looking for innovative solutions," said Bill Readdy, NASA's associate administrator for space operations. The agency will issue a call for proposals in summer 2005.

In the 1990s, NASA tried without success to recruit new ideas for commercial transportation. "Now it appears there may be a couple of real contenders," Readdy told reporters.

Following the shuttles' retirement, NASA aims to launch its replacement - the Crew Exploration Vehicle - on a crewed mission by 2014. Eight companies are competing to build the CEV and the new budget provides about $750 million for its development.

In 2004, President George W Bush outlined a vision to return the US to the Moon as early as 2015 and then to Mars - the CEV is a key part of that plan.

Most US government departments unrelated to defense or homeland security received cuts to their budgets this year. If approved by Congress, NASA's budget will increase by 2.4%. "Even in these fiscally challenging times, the objectives outlined by the president a year ago remain an administrative priority," said outgoing NASA boss Sean O'Keefe.



Cheers.


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