Novità sui vincitori del COTS: SpaceX con l’accoppiata Dragon e Falcon 9 e la Kistler con il RLV K-1.
tratto dall’articolo su Spacereview (http://www.thespacereview.com/article/733/1)
...SpaceX had already revealed many of the technical details about its Dragon capsule, to be launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket the company is also developing, SpaceX chief counsel Tim Hughes didn’t have that much new to share with COMSTAC attendees about their COTS proposal. Dragon, he confirmed, would be able to carry 1,400 kilograms of pressurized cargo and 1,700 kilograms of unpressurized cargo to the ISS and a similar amount of “downmass” from the station back to the Earth. “This provides NASA with a cost per kilogram to the International Space Station that is comparable to that provided by the Russians right now, but using almost an entirely domestic technology base,”...
test program would cover what are known as capabilities A through C of the COTS program: carrying cargo to the station, destructive disposal of cargo from the station, and the return of cargo from the station back to Earth. It does not include perhaps the most interesting part of the program, known as Option D: ferrying crews to and from the station. The $278 million that NASA awarded SpaceX for the COTS demonstration program did not include Option D, but Hughes said that the company has already developed a test program for demonstrating that capability using Dragon. An unmanned high-altitude suborbital flight in 2009 would demonstrate the vehicle’s abort and recovery systems; that would be followed in 2010 by two manned flights to the ISS: a “light” flight carrying a three-person crew to provide maximum delta-v and life support margins, and then an operational mission with a full seven-person crew.
Per quanto riguarda la Kistler
...the K-1 vehicle hardware is “75% complete”, a figure that Kistler Aerospace had been using since before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2003. However, he noted that other components of the vehicle are not nearly as far along: the payload module is only 25% complete and the kerosene tank for the K-1’s upper stage, the Orbital Vehicle (OV), is 35% complete. Many other vehicle components are already available, including the Russian-made NK-33 and NK-43 engines that power the first stage (the Launch Assist Platform, or LAP), and the OV, respectively. Aerojet has a stockpile of those engines in a Sacramento warehouse, and Trafton said it’s not really correct to call them Russian engines anymore. “We’re trying to get everybody to start calling them AJ-26’s,” he said, referring to the Aerojet designation for the NK-33 and -43[...] RpK, like SpaceX, is also looking into supporting crewed flights to ISS, but also has no money yet from NASA to carry out Option D. “In the beginning it was 2012 to 2014 when NASA might have a budget line item for capability D,” Trafton said. “We have been told, as SpaceX has, that NASA anticipates moving that to the left, significantly to the left.” Trafton said RpK has already examined ways to convert the payload module into a crew module that could carry five people, and could be ready to demonstrate that capability as early as 2009 or 2010, if funding is available.
Insomma il privato sembra fare sul serio per la ISS, che nonostante le critiche, rappresenta quel volano logistico necessario alla privatizzazione (almeno parziale) di cui parlo nel mio sito (alla pagina "Il San Francisco Model)