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COTS losers - Europe's potential independent manned access

Posted by: FerrisValyn - Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:37 pm
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COTS losers - Europe's potential independent manned access 
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Post COTS losers - Europe's potential independent manned access   Posted on: Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:37 pm
I was just thinking - I know ITAR might be a headache for trying to do this, but I was thinking about the various COTS proposes, and was thinking - lets assume that Nasa chooses T/Space and SpaceX's craft. Could/would it be in the interests of some of the other losers like Planetspace and Spacedev to appoarch ESA, and see about selling their vehicles to ESA such that then ESA would could have access to space independent of Nasa or RSA? Or could this idea be pursude for other countries as well (JAXA, India, etc)?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:19 pm
I'm not sure that ESA would be interested in buying space vehicles from a US private company, especially if they have to subsidise the development of the craft which is what COTS is going to do. Still it wouldn't hurt any losers to ask.

I dont think that ESA would fund a non-European private company when they could either spend the money themselves or with a European company, starchaser possibly. I'm sure that if the capability existed they would use it but I dont think they will fund an overseas development program, afterall they decided not to fund Kliper which would probably have been seen as less of a risk. It will just depend on how mature any craft is as to whether ESA will use it.

Also not sure how ESA would view a company's craft that NASA had already considered not as good as its competitors. They would probably opt for the COTS winner as well and buy seats with NASA.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Mar 21, 2006 11:12 pm
Except for the fact that NASA and typical winners have a tendancy to over inflate the price due to no alternatives!

That is essentially the drive behind the founders of alt.space... to do it better and cheaper than NASA.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:12 am
Hello, FerrisValyn,

I am thinking about that also but considering a different situation which is of no relevncye he.

Andy Hill you might be correct but I think the aspect valid here is another one. I understand the informations available publicly COTS doesn't have to do with buying vehicles but with buying flights and/or service.

So there may be a chance to sell flights ior services to ESA... - and to other customers which partially can or will be national space agencies like JAXA or international space agencies like ESA and partially private companies and organizations.

The private companies developing and constructing orbital vehicles - if unmanned or manned - simply could sell flights the way Virgin Galactic is doing that and finance the construction etc. by deposits.

This would mean that nobody has to buy a vehicle but would share its service with others and when the costruction company has sold a certain number of flights the development and construction is funded. That's atopic for the Financial Barriers section - what I want to say here is that ESA should decide to imitate NASA's way and should buy flights simply

They won't do that themselves and so the companies FerrisValyn is mentioning simply should do marketing efforts to acquire ESA, JAXA and others as customers.

This even could reduce ESA's needs to restrict or cancel projects because of budget constraints - may be that ESA would trun into a very thankfully customer.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:07 am
Ekkehard I think you may have got a little confused by the term COTS, normally this term means "Commercial off the shelf" which simple put means to buy commercially available equipment or services rather than develop your own.

In this case NASA uses the acronym to mean"Commercial orbital transport system" and it is a means to fund development in the private sector of orbital space craft to service the ISS.

These spacecraft do not exist at the moment and therefore could not be "bought off the shelf". A COTS losing company would not have NASA funds to continue development so FerrisValyn suggested that ESA might fund this development. My point was that if ESA were going to fund any spacecraft development then it would probably be with a European company and not one in the US (one of the reasons that NASA uses Boeing or Lockheed rather than an overseas company) as it would not be politically expediant. Spending millions of dollars to create a foreign capability that you have no control over would not be a good idea.

As I said ESA would take advantage of the overseas capability if it existed but it will not fund its creation. To the best of my knowledge US space companies like SpaceDev for instance do not really operate in Europe (Sure they probably have European contracts but the work is done in the US) and things like ITAR would make it difficult for them to do so.

This is one of the reasons I suspect that Starchaser opened a US office, so it could work on US projects in the US. Look at Virgin's problems with funding Scaled to build spacecraft, they weren't even allowed to see what they were paying for. ESA last year declined working with the US on a Mars probe and cited ITAR as one of the reasons, if it didn't want to help fund a NASA project what makes you think it would want to fund a private US space project?

IMO if ESA wanted to create a commercial space transport system, and it is by no means clear that it does, it will be in Europe not the US. ESA is suppposed to further European goals in space not the US's, thats NASA's job.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:44 am
I guess part of my reasoning comes from there has always been a push to try and get a European manned craft, that is seperate from that of the US or Russia. We saw that most recently in with regaurds to European funding for Klipper (and yes, I know that didn't go through.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:33 pm
I would love to see a European manned spacecraft and I think that there are a lot of people within ESA who would want to see one as well, particularly the French. The trouble is that not all participating ESA countries see this as a priority and would rather spend money on other things, hence the conflicting signals from ESA over the Kliper project. One moment it seems like they will participate the next they wont.

I think that NASA's COTS program is an excellent idea and that ESA should do something similar in Europe for manned spacecraft. I also think that NASA would like to see that so that as many teams as possible are working on the problem.

One point not mentioned is that ESA is already developing the ATV so is in effect creating an alternative method of supplying the ISS and will probably not want to get involved at the moment with creating another transport system.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 22, 2006 3:10 pm
Hello, Andy Hill,

I know the acronym NASA is using - Commerical Orbital Transport System - but didn't know yet the orginal menaing.

As far as I remeber my informations about NASA's COTS it doesn't necessaryly mena financing the devlopment but explicitly includes that a service is bought from a private company. SpaceX#s Dragon for example seems to be designed to be launched via a Falcon. The resuable Falcon stages will reamin in SpaceX's ownership. The informations about the Dragen to me sound as if the Dragon also will remain in SpaceX's ownership. If it can really be launched via a Falcon only then it doesn't mak much sense if the Dragon is in NASA's ownership.

I will reread the informations about COTS once during the next two weeks when I find time to do so.

Peter once told me that fund(s) means money in English - then to fund may mean to buy a service also. This way a vehicle can be funded also. Am I taking "to fund" in a too broad sense this way?



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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:07 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Peter once told me that fund(s) means money in English - then to fund may mean to buy a service also. This way a vehicle can be funded also. Am I taking "to fund" in a too broad sense this way?


To "fund" something always means to pay for something rather than buy something. I know its a bit confusing but thats English for you, what else can you expect of a language that is an amalgum of so many others. :) Let me see if I can explain.

Fund is used in this instance like it would be in funding an expedition or an art exhibition. NASA is helping competitors to achieve a goal by supplying a certain amount of finance to pay for the craft to be created it is not buying anything, although it is understood that should teams be successful it will purchase a service from them at a later date but that is not part of the COTS program. NASA is subsidising teams so that they can afford to develop these expensive systems because NASA wants to use them.

So NASA is creating an environment where craft can be created it is not receiving anything tangible for its money like a spacecraft. It hopes to create a service to the ISS that it can utilise where only the potential exist currently.

Perhaps "Commercial of the Shelf" is a term specific to the UK if you have not heard of it. It is particularly used in government where for instance the cost to develop something like a military radio is much greater than paying for a commercially available radio that operates over the same frequency range. It often leads to the purchase of equipment that is cheaper but is not as rugged or fitted to the task it is bought for. A general use item as opposed to a specific use item.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:15 am
Hello, Andy Hill,

Thank You Very Much for the explanation what "fubding" or "to fund" means. Sunsidizing is a term I know well since the german analogon is "Subvention".

A "Subvention" sometimes is payed by the government to companies important for keeping the level of employment or even increasing the employment but not bale to cover their costs yet or no more. So a "Subvention" is disliked by market economists - I am a market economist - and it is sufficiently investigated, analysed and explored scientifically by Economics to say that a "Subvention" is bad nearly allways since it keeps inefficiency and damages the government budgets.

For these reasons a "Subvention" allways should be designed so that it has to be paid back after recovery or getting into the profit zone the first time and no profits have to opaid to the shareholders as long as the company gets a "Subvention"

So I have my problems with this.

I have looked for the meaning of COTS in between and found something at Space.com. But I didn't look to NASA etc. yet.

There are several articles at Space.com talking about COTS and here is a quote from one of them - Public Space Travel: Building the Business Case
( www.space.com/news/060216_tourism_staif.html):
Quote:
Webber said that he is hopeful that NASA’s new effort to purchase Commercial Orbital Transportation Services—often called COTS—will stimulate orbital space tourism.
.

So COTS means Service - not System. And Webber says that NASA wants to purches services - which are not the vehcles themselves or the rockets themselves. Such purchases ESA, JAXA, national space agencies and privates could purchase also.

I have read the article and the agreements NASA wants to do may include that "Subventionen" have to be paid back via services or that the "Subventionen" are already the payments for the future services. This too ESA etc. and privates could do. In principle I am wondering why NASA didn't involve ESA etc. into COTS.



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Post    Posted on: Tue May 02, 2006 1:28 pm
In between I searched at NASA's homepage for the term COTS or Commercial Orbital Transportation and got a list of documents which are not all about what's meant in the previous posts.

The first row of the list I contains a document I couldn't open up to now but the row might be a source of confusion - it reads
Quote:
[PDF] Microsoft PowerPoint - Commercial Presentation Final.ppt ... Phase 1 – Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems (COTS) Demonstrations ... Phase
2 – Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems (COTS) Services ...
http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/oer/nac/N ... Commercial%
20Presentation%20Final.pdf


This row is mixing Systems and Services which might mean the services to be got from or by the Systems.

There are more documents listed about COTS I still have to read - at the moment I should list only one further row which is the second one. It reads
Quote:
[MS POWERPOINT] gammaray.nsstc.nasa.gov/colloquia/abstracts_spring06/presentations/RSackheim-pres.ppt ... Orbital space tourism. Commercial orbital transportation services (COTS). Rack &
stack up to HLLV (a’ 1a – Delta II) for CLV back-up (just-in-case). ...
http://gammaray.nsstc.nasa.gov/colloqui ... s/RSackhei
m-pres.ppt



This row is talking about services only but not about systems.

May be sources of confusion for the press and me myself, may be real mixes, may mean a system of services etc. etc. etc.

I will read some of the documents I got the list of.



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Post    Posted on: Sun May 14, 2006 3:22 pm
I in between completed my checks of the meaning of COTS when NASA is speaking of that term.

At NASA I found the following:

1. Remarks for Space Transportation Association Breakfast
Shana Dale
Deputy Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
March 22, 2006

Quote:
In January, NASA issued a challenge to U.S. industry, both the
established aerospace companies and the emerging entrepreneurial
companies. Through our Commercial Orbital Transportations Services
Demonstrations announcement or COTS
, we are challenging all
interested parties to demonstrate through competitive proposals that they
can establish capabilities and services to safely and reliably support the
Space Station’s cargo and crew transportation needs.


2. Remarks for U.S. Space Foundation
National Space Symposium
Colorado Springs, CO
Michael D. Griffin
Administrator,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
6 April 2006

Quote:
Our first step in spurring the development of a space economy is already
underway, through our half-billion dollar Commercial Orbital Transportation
Services demonstration, or COTS
.


3. Brant Sponberg, Program Executive (Acting)
Innovative Procurements
Exploration Systems Mission Directorate
February 8, 2006
Commercial Opportunities
in the
Vision for Space Exploration
Commercial Opportunities
in the
Vision for Space Exploration
Presentation to the NASA Advisory Council

Quote:
Phase 2– Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems (COTS) Services
• After successful demonstration of any mission capability under Phase 1, competitively
procure orbital transportation services under FAR Part 12 (commercial services
contracts
).


In all these three quotes of Michael Griffin, Shana Dale and Brant Sponberg COTS is short for Commercial Orbital Transportation Services.

Brant Sponberg seems to be an exception - he seems to use COTS as short form of Commercail Orbital Transport System but he adds the word Services then: COTS Services or even COTSS if all words are abbreviated.

Sponberg a few words later only is talking abou services - "Sytems" seems to be meant only regarding demonstrations. The systems have to be demonstrated before NASA buys services - which in principle is nothing else than what each reasonable entreprenuer is required to do: to get something demonstrated, checked, tested berfore it is bought.

Obviously one or a few NASA-people unvoluntary caused confusion(s) - and all this was meant to remove my/the confusion and to find out what's correct.

Is it of help and clarifying a bit?



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Post    Posted on: Sun May 14, 2006 5:44 pm
The official site for NASA COTS is http://procurement.jsc.nasa.gov/cots/, it should help clarify the intentions by going to the actual source.

Hope this helps...


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