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Odp: [ Spaceflight Now] NASA wrestles with what to do with ISS after 2024
« Odpowiedź #15 dnia: Luty 17, 2020, 08:24 »
Bigelow Aerospace sets sights on free-flying station after passing on ISS commercial module
by Jeff Foust — January 29, 2020 [SN]


Robert Bigelow said in an interview that Bigelow Aerospace did not big on NASA's ISS commercial module competition because of concerns the funding NASA offered wasn't sufficient. Credit: SpaceNews/Jeff Foust

WASHINGTON — The founder of Bigelow Aerospace says his company decided not to pursue a NASA competition for a commercial International Space Station module because of funding concerns, but remains interested in a separate effort for supporting a free-flying facility in low Earth orbit.

In a Jan. 28 interview, Robert Bigelow said his company decided not to bid on a NASA competition for access to an ISS docking port for a commercial module because the funding NASA offered for doing so was too low. NASA announced Jan. 27 it selected Axiom Space to use the port through its Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program.

When NASA issued the request for proposal in June for the docking port, NASA said it projected making $561 million available for both the docking port solicitation and a separate one to support development of a free-flying commercial facility. “That was asking just too much” of the company, Bigelow said. “So we told NASA we had to bow out.”

Bigelow said that NASA later indicated to him the agency might have erred with that funding estimate. “They shouldn’t have made the statements that they did regarding that particular number, let’s put it that way,” he said.

In questions and answers released by NASA for the draft NextSTEP request for proposals for a free flyer, NASA has said the $561 million figure is not a “hard constraint” on the program’s budget. “Offerors should propose what they feel is required to close their business case,” the agency said.

NASA has yet to release a final version of that request for proposals for free flyers, even though the agency said it would do so by December. Bigelow says his company remains interested in that program, depending on funding. In the meantime, it is continuing work on a habitation module concept for NASA’s lunar Gateway through a separate NextSTEP effort.

Bigelow said either a commercial ISS module or a free flyer would need significant NASA support to be viable since the commercial market isn’t big enough yet to support such facilities.

“Commercialization isn’t robust at all,” he said, noting the challenges the ISS has had attracting commercial users. “No single industry is mature enough. There’s not enough there to maintain a large structure and have frequent traffic.”

“The mantra is that NASA will be a customer, but not the only customer, and at some point that will work well,” he said. “It’s just that the pump-priming needs to happen at the inception of that, and there has to be substantial government subsidies for a period of time until industries can stand on their own feet.”

Bigelow added another issue was the perception that NASA’s resources were being increasingly diverted to lunar exploration efforts, like a lunar lander. While supportive in general of a human return to the moon, he said he was worried the program might not be sustainable.

“If the lunar lander is all that there is come 2024 — if it can be executed by that time, and I have my doubts — my concern is that it’s a repeat of what was done a half-century ago,” he said, with just “flags and footprints” missions that don’t establish a long-term presence there.

“I don’t see a base that you can keep occupied, and rotate people in and out of,” he said. “That’s a concern that I have about the lunar program as a whole.” Language in a House authorization bill for NASA, introduced Jan. 24, would deemphasize any work on a permanent outpost in order to keep the agency focused on sending humans to Mars. Bigelow said he was aware of the bill but had not yet had time to review it in detail.

Bigelow has, in the past, talked about the importance of establishing a lunar base, and the company has created models of such a base that make use of versions of its expandable habitat technology. He said he would not rule out working with other companies on a commercial lunar base of some kind.

“If Elon [Musk] or Jeff [Bezos] actually want to pursue lunar bases, I would love to join a partnership in putting something together as a team and try to make something like that happen,” he said, citing the company’s expertise in habitation modules. “I think we could provide a lunar base successfully.”


Source: https://spacenews.com/bigelow-aerospace-sets-sights-on-free-flying-station-after-passing-on-iss-commercial-module/

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Odp: [ Spaceflight Now] NASA wrestles with what to do with ISS after 2024
« Odpowiedź #16 dnia: Marzec 06, 2020, 08:03 »
Axiom to fly Crew Dragon mission to the space station
by Jeff Foust — March 5, 2020


Axiom Space will fly three private astronauts and a company employee to the ISS on a Crew Dragon mission as soon as the second half of 2021, the company announced March 5. Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON — Axiom Space, a company with ambitions to develop a private space station, announced March 5 that it has signed a contract with SpaceX for a commercial Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station.

Axiom said the mission, scheduled for launch no earlier than the second half of 2021, will carry one Axiom professional astronaut and three private astronauts to the ISS. The mission will last 10 days, including eight at the station and two in transit. The company did not disclose terms of the deal, nor pricing for the individual private astronauts.

In a statement, Michael Suffredini, chief executive of Axiom, called the flight a “watershed moment” for commercialization of low Earth orbit. “This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space, a first for a commercial entity,” he said. “Procuring the transportation marks significant progress toward that goal, and we’re glad to be working with SpaceX in this effort.”

The flight represents the start of Axiom’s long-term plans. The company anticipates doing as many as two such missions a year in accordance with NASA’s LEO commercialization strategy announced last June, which allows for private flights and short-term stays by commercial spaceflight participants.

NASA selected Axiom Jan. 27 to gain access to a docking port on the station’s Harmony, or Node 2, module. Axiom plans to attach a commercial module to that port in late 2024, which will be equipped with docking ports and an “Earth Observatory,” a larger version of the station’s cupola.

“That module looks like a node,” Suffredini said in an interview shortly after the NASA award in January, describing it as being similar to the station’s existing Node 2 and Node 3 modules, but one to two meters longer.

That will be followed in 2025 by a habitation module and, in 2026, a research and manufacturing module, both of which will be attached to that initial module. Ultimately, that “Axiom segment” of the station will detach when the ISS is retired and, with the addition of a power and thermal module, became a free-flying space station.

Private astronaut flights to the ISS, though, are the first steps in that effort. The company stated that it was in discussions with NASA “to establish additional enabling agreements for the private astronaut missions to ISS,” which a company spokesperson said involves the specifics of fitting a private mission into the overall schedule of missions going to the station.

The flight announcement comes as Axiom works to raise outside investment. Suffredini said in that earlier interview that the company is in the process of raising a Series A funding round on the order of $100 million, which it hopes to close by the beginning of summer.

The contract is the second deal for a commercial Crew Dragon mission announced in less than a month. Space Adventures announced Feb. 18 it had an agreement for a Crew Dragon mission launching between late 2021 and the middle of 2022. That flight, carrying four private astronauts, will not go to the ISS but instead fly in an orbit more than twice as high as the station.

“Thanks to Axiom and their support from NASA, privately crewed missions will have unprecedented access to the space station, furthering the commercialization of space and helping usher in a new era of human exploration,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in the Axiom statement.


Source: https://spacenews.com/axiom-to-fly-crew-dragon-mission-to-the-space-station/

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Odp: [ Spaceflight Now] NASA wrestles with what to do with ISS after 2024
« Odpowiedź #17 dnia: Wrzesień 09, 2020, 08:08 »
Gerstenmaier warns against ending space station program prematurely
by Jeff Foust — September 8, 2020


Bill Gerstenmaier, a longtime NASA official now working as a consultant for SpaceX, said NASA should not rush to retire the International Space Station while commercial markets for low Earth orbit are still being established. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

WASHINGTON — The former head of NASA’s human spaceflight program, now working as a consultant to SpaceX, said he welcomes greater commercial activity in low Earth orbit but cautioned against ending the International Space Station prematurely.

Bill Gerstenmaier discussed the importance of the ISS, from a technical and policy standpoint, during a virtual town hall meeting Sept. 5 by the Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). His appearance was one of his first public comments on space topics since retiring from NASA in late 2019, several months after being reassigned from the position of associate administrator for human exploration and operations and more than four decades after joining the agency.

At the AIAA town hall meeting, he outlined the benefits of the ISS program, from science and technology development to the setting of standards for future exploration efforts. The station, he added, has also been a catalyst for commercial activity, creating demand for launch services for cargo and crew and hosting a growing number of private activities and facilities.

While NASA has discussed plans to eventually transition from the ISS to private space stations in LEO, he warned against doing so too quickly. “The push will be strong to end ISS and free up resources, predominantly dollars, for exploration. I think that’s a false trade,” he said. “ISS is still playing a very strong role in U.S. leadership.”

He argued it would take time for companies to develop the markets that can sustain private activities to the point where commercial stations are viable. “ISS is enabling the U.S. private sector companies to explore and develop commercial markets in low Earth orbit. This is going to take time,” he said. “This effort is actually critical, I believe, to establishing and making exploration sustainable into the future.”

“We don’t want to do an Apollo: a rush to a single objective and then have nothing left,” he continued. “We need to build infrastructure, leave pieces behind that the private sector can use, as well as the government, to move forward.”

Gerstenmaier said he didn’t know how long such a transition from the ISS to private facilities would take, but didn’t think there was a firm deadline for ending the station. “I don’t know that there’s a hard date where the station needs to be retired,” he said. “I think there will be probably a push to retire the station with the idea that you’re going to free up funds for exploration. That’s what I described to you as a false choice.”

NASA’s fiscal year 2019 budget request, released in early 2018, proposed ending federal funding of the ISS in 2025 as part of a LEO commercialization initiative. That proposal faced strong opposition in Congress, and NASA has not proposed a similar deadline for the station in subsequent budget requests. Past engineering studies have found that the ISS should be able to operate through at least 2028.

Gerstenmaier said it would take time for companies to explore markets for LEO activities, noting that both tourism and pharmaceutical research appeared promising. It was important, he added, to give more industry sectors access to the ISS to see how they can make use of the space environment in their fields. “That’s the heart of the innovation that has to occur,” he said. “I don’t think I can predict where those areas are, but I think our job is to expose the world, get more people to space, let them understand what we’re seeing and understand how we’re seeing it, and turn them free to figure out how to creatively use it.”

That innovation, he said, is needed to help stimulate the commercial spaceflight industry despite the success of SpaceX’s Demo-2 commercial crew mission to the station this summer. “I think the transportation sector for crew still isn’t quite established yet,” he said. “I think we need to give that a little bit of time to mature and get ready.”

He did not discuss in his comments his reassignment from associate administrator for human exploration and operations to a special adviser in July 2019. He quietly retired from the agency late last year and, in February, became a consultant to SpaceX.

He declined to go into specifics about his work at SpaceX, but said there’s less difference between work at the company versus that at NASA than one might expect, at least from a technical standpoint.

“It’s interesting being on both sides,” he said. “The demands of human spaceflight are the same. The precision that we have to do every day to make sure our crews are safe, make sure the hardware works, are absolutely the same. There’s no forgiveness for mistakes or being lazy or not sharing. You have to be 100% focused. That’s what we’re working on at SpaceX: how do we transition and get ready to really establish a transportation system that normal people would be willing to use.”


Source: https://spacenews.com/gerstenmaier-warns-against-ending-space-station-program-prematurely/

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Odp: [SFN] chief warns of gap after retirement of International Space Station
« Odpowiedź #18 dnia: Listopad 23, 2020, 11:17 »
NASA chief warns of gap after retirement of International Space Station
November 11, 2020 Stephen Clark


File photo from the International Space Station as the outpost flew over the Nile River delta n Egypt in August 2019. Credit: NASA

The International Space Station is likely to continue operating for another decade, but without more government support, a privately-owned outpost may not be ready in time to replace it, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

Bridenstine told Spaceflight Now he is concerned that a commercial space station may not be ready by the time the International Space Station reaches the end of its life.

While NASA focuses more resources on a return of astronauts to the moon, and eventually human expeditions to Mars, the space agency still wants to send experiments and crews into low Earth orbit to test out technologies for deep space exploration and perform other research investigations.

Instead of owning and operating a space station itself, the government wants to lease accommodations on a commercial outpost in orbit.

“Under no circumstances should we have a gap in low Earth orbit,” Bridenstine in an interview. “We’ve been asking Congress to fund the development of commercial habitation in low Earth orbit now for a number of years. And every year … Congress doesn’t fund it.

“If we keep going down this path where we don’t fund the replacement for the space station, we will end up with a gap, which I think is very bad for the country,” Bridenstine said. “Just like after Apollo ended, we had an eight year gap before space shuttle. Just like after shuttle ended, we had a nine year gap before we did commercial crew.”

With SpaceX on the verge of starting operational commercial crew flights to the International Space Station, transportation services to low Earth orbit for people and cargo are now run by the private sector. Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule, which could become operational next year after encountering delays, will be a second vehicle for commercial crew transportation to low Earth orbit.

Congress has committed NASA to continuing International Space Station operations through at least 2024. Lawmakers have proposed another extension to 2028 or 2030, and Bridenstine said he is confident Congress will soon pass a bill to extend NASA’s support of the ISS program through at least the late 2020s.

Dmitry Rogozin, director general of the Russian space agency, said last month that Russia is “ready to consider” any proposal to extend the International Space Station’s lifetime.

But Congress has not been as keen to provide NASA funding to jump-start development of new commercial habitats in low Earth orbit. That raises worries that the continuous presence of humans in orbit — began 20 years ago last month with the launch of the first International Space Station crew — may end when the ISS is decommissioned.

NASA hopes a privately-owned outpost will be cheaper to operate than the $3 billion to $4 billion the space agency spends each year operating the ISS.

“We need to make sure that we’re investing today for commercial habitation in the future because NASA wants to be a customer in low Earth orbit, not the owner-operator,” Bridenstine said. “And I think that there’s opportunity to avoid a gap if we start right now, but the longer we go, the more likely it is that we’re going to have a gap.”

The Trump administration requested $150 million for NASA’s low Earth orbit commercialization initiative in fiscal year 2020, but Congress only approved $15 million for the program.

The funding shortfall caused NASA to put on hold a solicitation for a company to build a commercial “free-flyer” space station.

“Before we can get a solicitation out, we’ve to make sure that we’ve got funding for a selection, so that’s what we’re working on now,” Bridenstine said.

“The big thing that I’m worried about is that the ISS comes the end of its useful life, and we don’t have a replacement,” Bridenstine said. “And I’ll tell you why that’s a problem. It’s a problem because China is building their own space station, and they’re going to be attracting partners from around the world, and I think the United States of America should be in the lead.”

NASA has made more progress with an effort to add a privately-owned module to the International Space Station. Earlier this year, NASA selected Axiom Space of Houston to attach a commercial module to the ISS.

Axiom eventually plans to build a commercial space station using its ISS module as the core of a new orbiting research complex. Axiom’s module would be detached before the decommissioning of the International Space Station, which will end with a guided, destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

NASA’s $140 million contract with Axiom covers just a fraction of the cost of the company’s planned space station. And NASA is paying Axiom to demonstrate its capabilities. Funding to actually build the modules will come from other sources.

“Overall, the cost is $2.5 to $3 billion to build our whole space station, and the sum total of the contract we have with the government … is $140 million over five to seven years, depending on extensions,” said Mike Suffredini, Axiom’s CEO, in an interview with Spaceflight Now in September.

“All the development money is coming from either revenue or investment, and we’re very proud of that,” Suffredini said. “We’re right on schedule relative to investments. That’s a critical part of progress, and we like where we are.”

Axiom is also working with NASA to fly paying private astronauts to the ISS.

NanoRacks, another Houston-based company, is also interested in developing a commercial outpost to host people and experiments. NanoRacks plans to launch a small commercial airlock to the International Space Station later this year.

Bigelow Aerospace, founded by real estate entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, has pursued plans to build a privately-owned space station using inflatable habitats for more than 20 years. But Bigelow laid off its entire workforce in March, according to Space News.

Space News reported Bigelow said in January 2020 that NASA needs to provide “substantial government subsidies for a period of time until industries can stand on their own feet.”

Bigelow Aerospace did not respond to questions from Spaceflight Now.

“There are all kinds of commercial companies that want to do amazing things in space, so long as the taxpayer funds it,” Bridenstine told Spaceflight Now. “I think we need to have some really strong public-private partnerships for the development of the capability, and there needs to be an offer. Look, we want to be a partner in the development, for sure, but … in the long run, we want to be a customer, period.”



Artist’s concept of Axiom’s space station, which the company says will be constructed while attached to the International Space Station, then detach to form an independent commercial research complex. Credit: Axiom Space

The Science and Technology Policy Institute, a federally-funded research center, concluded in a 2017 market analysis that it was unlikely a commercially owned and operated space station would be economically viable by 2025, when the Trump administration proposed ending government support for the ISS.

The analysis showed that the annual operating costs for a commercial space station could range from $463 million to $2.25 billion. The report identified several types of activities that could generate revenue on a private space station in low Earth orbit, including its use as a human habitat or destination, satellite servicing, in-space manufacturing, basic research, technology demonstration, Earth observation, advertising, and education.

Boeing, NASA’s lead contractor in charge of the International Space Station, is supporting Axiom and NanoRacks in their development of new commercial space habitats. So far, Boeing has announced no plans to build its own space station.

“It’s going to be really important for companies like Boeing and others to make sure that over the long term, you can close the business case,” said John Mulholland, Boeing’s ISS program manager.

“We continue to evaluate that, and certainly, we’re looking in a number of areas where we can add value and contribute, either from a prime or a support role,” Mulholland told reporters in October. “But it all depends on the needs of the customer and the business case around it. In the near-term … our focus today is supporting these two companies (Axiom and NanoRacks) and other companies.

“We’re looking at opportunities that where we can provide more to our customer,” Mulholland said. “We’re looking at a number of avenues that we’re not ready to discuss today.”

“We’ve been the prime integrator of all science that rolls through the space station,” Mulholland said. “So all payload integration is performed by this team.

“On Axiom, we’re involved on the on the early stages of the design,” Mulholland said. “We’re going through and working, right now, with Axiom on the evaluation of the early design work that’s being done, and helping them lay out a path to further advance it to final design.”

Mulholland said Boeing’s engineers have performed structural analyses that show the International Space Station can safely remain operational for at least another decade.

“From all the analysis that has been done, technically, we can support 2030 and beyond,” Mulholland said. “We’re finalizing that analysis, so we’re looking forward from a policy standpoint, for policymakers to memorialize that in legislation, which we expect next year, and we’re very supportive of that. Technically, that analysis is near complete.”


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/11/11/nasa-chief-warns-of-gap-after-retirement-of-international-space-station/

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Odp: [SFN] chief warns of gap after retirement of International Space Station
« Odpowiedź #18 dnia: Listopad 23, 2020, 11:17 »

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Odp: Artykuły o American space stations after the ISS
« Odpowiedź #19 dnia: Lipiec 16, 2021, 01:34 »
NASA seeks proposals for commercial space station development
by Jeff Foust — July 15, 2021 [SN]


Sierra Space is among the companies that has expressed an interest in participating in NASA's Commercial LEO Destinations program to support development of commercial space stations. Credit: Sierra Space

WASHINGTON — NASA is seeking proposals for a program to support the development of commercial space stations, even as funding for that effort is in jeopardy in Congress.

NASA published a request for proposals July 12 for its Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development, or CLD, program. The effort, announced earlier this year, will provide funding for initial studies of commercial space stations that could ultimately be used by NASA and other customers. Proposals are due to the agency Aug. 26.

Source: https://spacenews.com/nasa-seeks-proposals-for-commercial-space-station-development/

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Odp: Artykuły o American space stations after the ISS
« Odpowiedź #20 dnia: Sierpień 26, 2021, 23:35 »
Space agencies support ISS extension as NASA warns of space race with China
by Jeff Foust — August 25, 2021 [SN]


Walther Pelzer, head of the German space agency DLR, expressed Germany's support for extending the International Space Station during a heads of agencies panel at the 36th Space Symposium Aug. 25 as NASA Administrator Bill Nelson looks on. Credit: Thomas Kimmell

COLORADO SPRINGS — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he remains confident that Russia will remain a part of the International Space Station through the end of the decade but warned of an emerging space race with China.

Speaking on a panel with the heads of seven other space agencies at the 36th Space Symposium here Aug. 25, Nelson said that he didn’t believe media reports out of the Russia from earlier this year that claimed Roscosmos might end its participation on the ISS as soon as the middle of the decade to develop its own station.

“Despite what you read in the press, I think that the cooperation with the Russians, which has been there ever since 1975, will continue,” he said, referring to the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission in 1975 when an Apollo spacecraft docked with a Soyuz spacecraft.

As evidence of that, he said, was the docking last month of a new Russian module, called Nauka, with the station. “We expect our Russian partners to continue with us, and we expect to expand the space station as a government project all the way to 2030.”

Source: https://spacenews.com/space-agencies-support-iss-extension-as-nasa-warns-of-space-race-with-china/

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Odp: Artykuły o American space stations after the ISS
« Odpowiedź #21 dnia: Wrzesień 20, 2021, 23:04 »
NASA reviews private space station proposals, expects to save over $1 billion annually after ISS retires
PUBLISHED MON, SEP 20 20212:14 PM EDT UPDATED 58 MIN AGO Michael Sheetz @THESHEETZTWEETZ [SNBC]


An artist’s illustration of the Axiom modules attached to the International Space Station. Axiom Space

NASA plans to retire the International Space Station by the end of this decade, so the U.S. space agency is turning to private companies to build new space stations in orbit – and expects to save more than $1 billion annually as a result.

NASA earlier this year unveiled the Commercial LEO Destinations project, with plans to award up to $400 million in total contracts to as many as four companies to begin development of private space stations.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/20/nasa-evaluating-private-space-station-proposals-for-iss-replacement.html

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Odp: Artykuły o American space stations after the ISS
« Odpowiedź #22 dnia: Wrzesień 24, 2021, 16:37 »
NASA urged to avoid space station gap
by Jeff Foust — September 23, 2021 [SN]


Both industry officials and members of a NASA advisory panel urged the agency to ensure that commercial space stations are in operation before the ISS is retired around the end of the decade. Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON — NASA needs to ensure that commercial space stations are ready before the International Space Station is retired to avoid a “space station gap” with geopolitical consequences, industry officials and other advisers warn.

Source: https://spacenews.com/nasa-urged-to-avoid-space-station-gap/

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Odp: Artykuły o American space stations after the ISS
« Odpowiedź #22 dnia: Wrzesień 24, 2021, 16:37 »