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COTS 1.5 Roundup

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Jan 7, 2008 11:18 am
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After NASA revoked Rocketplane Kistler the COTS development contract last year due to the missing of required milestones, they decided to run a second competition with the funds, sometimes called COTS 1.5.

While the other winner of the COTS phase 1 contract, http://spacefellowship.com/Graphics/arrowgreen.gifSpaceX, remains on course for their demonstration flights in 2009, there is $174.7 million available for a new contender. Again, the new contender will have to demonstrate its capabilities for the COTS flights after the Shuttle is retired in 2010.

Of course, the companies that failed to be selected for phase 1 are the natural contenders. Among them are t/Space, SpaceDev and Andrews Space, additionally new alliances are being formed to enter the bidding, SPACEHAB and PlanetSpace for example. These organisations all entered the competition before the deadline in mid-November 2007.

The selection of one or more winners is currently scheduled for February 2008. Additionally NASA is already looking to award contracts in 2008 for the ISS resupply flights.

Besides the COTS contract, NASA contracted unfunded Space Act Agreements (SAA) with several of the rising space companies. These SAAs gives the companies defined milestones which are checked by NASA while on the other side the companies have a documented process for further contracts.


SPACEHAB
, known for its laboratories and cargo carriers designed for the Shuttle cargo bay entered the competition with their ARCTUS (Astrotech Research & Conventional Technology Utilization Spacecraft) that will be launched atop a ULA Atlas V rocket, while being compatible of launches atop Delta IV or SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. It is derived from the Atlas-Centaur upper stage and will be available in three versions to optimize the cargo capacity for either pressurized or unpressurized cargo. The pressurized module is designed for reusability and will be air-captured by helicopter.
ARCTUS Demo Pressure Shell. Source SPACEHAB.
ARCTUS Demo Pressure Shell. Source SPACEHAB.

Docking to the ISS will be similar to SpaceX’s concept via the use of the SSRMS, the Space Station robotic arm. This simplifies development of the spacecraft considerably. The development and manufacturing progress has already begun.


t/Space
entered the new competition with its CXV craft already presented for the first COTS selection. This spacecraft will be air-launched by a carrier aircraft developed by Scaled Composites, potentially the White Knight 2.
Scaled Composites' Proteus aircraft carries a 23%-scale version of the proposed CXV capsule and its QuickReach II booster. Source t/Space.
Scaled Composites’ Proteus aircraft carries a 23%-scale version of the proposed CXV capsule and its QuickReach II booster. Source t/Space.


Andrews Space
is designing a reusable spacecraft capable of delivering 3.7 tons to the ISS, pressurized as well as unpressurized cargo. While this craft will be capable of being launched atop an existing US rocket, Andrews focuses on its own launcher family, the Hercules. It will be able to lift between 2.5 and 12.5 tons into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Andrews Space COTS Proposal. Source Andrews Space.
Andrews Space COTS Proposal. Source Andrews Space.

Partners to Andrews Space are MDA, ATK, Reynolds Smith and Hills (RS&H), Draper Laboratory, Odyssey Space Research, Aerojet, Irvin Aerospace, and ILC Dover.

Already developed and built are subsystems and mockups for integration tests.


PlanetSpace
teamed up with Lockheed Martin, Bank of Montreal and ATK to bid for COTS. While the team wants to announce details after a potential COTS award, with Lockheed Martin and ATK in the team it’s probable that one of their launchers will be used, either a rocket from the Atlas V or Athena families. One of their presentation videos showed an Athena like launcher.
PlanetSpace COTS Proposal. Source PlanetSpace.
PlanetSpace COTS Proposal. Source PlanetSpace.

Besides their COTS proposal, Planetspace is developing its own family of launchers, the NOVA boosters together with the Silver Dart orbital spacecraft.


SpaceDev
finally sees its Dream Chaser spacecraft being capable of orbital flights. Based on earlier NASA studies and test craft on lifting bodies, Dream Chaser will be propelled by SpaceDev’s hybrid propulsion systems.
SpaceDev Dream Chaser Space Transportation System. Source SpaceDev.
SpaceDev Dream Chaser Space Transportation System. Source SpaceDev.

The launch will occur atop a ULA Atlas V rocket, which is currently examined for crewed space flight. Several companies expressed interest in using this launcher, besides SpaceDev also Bigelow Aerospace and SPACEHAB.



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